JR Motorsports Race Report
August 5, 2017
JR Motorsports Race Report
Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017
Race 20 of 33: Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International
Track Specs: 2.45-mile oval / 82 laps
Weather: Partly cloudy; 67 degrees
Race Winner: Kyle Busch
Byron’s Finish: 10th
William Byron came into his first NASCAR Xfinity Series road-course weekend at Watkins Glen International hoping to learn, get better and build a foundation for the remaining road-course races this season. The 19-year-old Charlotte, N.C. native did that, checking all the boxes and posting a top-10 finish in the Axalta/Progressive Powder Coatings INC Chevrolet.
Byron started the Zippo 200 at The Glen in the 15th spot and managed to snag a spot to 14th on the opening lap. An early caution for a spin off Turn 7 on the fourth lap allowed him to collect his breath and try it again. He held his spot for several laps until JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler dived underneath in Turn 1 for position on lap 11 and Brendan Gaughan got past a couple of laps later to set him back to 15th.
On lap 17, just three laps from the end of Stage One, crew chief Dave Elenz called Byron to pit road for four tires and fuel, short-stopping the stage break and gambling on getting track position back when the rest of the field came down for their own service. Despite dropping to 34th after pitting, Byron was soon back to 14th, and the game began again. Byron advanced to eighth by lap 35, five laps from the end of Stage Two, when Elenz called him back down pit road for four more Goodyear tires and fuel. Elenz, who had been calling for Byron to save fuel every lap he could, played the same strategy as in Stage One, and sent Byron back out in 22nd spot. At the end of Stage Two on lap 40, Byron had picked up three spots and did not need to pit on the break.
Unfortunately, many other cars did not come to pit road at the end of the stage, and Byron was left battling for 15th as the laps progressed. As cars that had not pitted peeled off, Byron rose all the way to the second spot on lap 53, when he pitted again for four tires and fuel to the end. By lap 58, he had reclaimed 13th spot and had his sights set on a top-10 finish.
He was running 11th with six laps remaining when the caution flag waved yet again for the slowing car of Casey Mears off Turn 5. Elenz called an audible and called Byron back down pit road for fresher tires, and a quick stop got him out without losing any spots. On the final restart, with three laps to go, he seized the 10th spot on the rush to the 90-degree Turn 1 and did not relinquish it to the checkered. It was his 14th top-10 finish of the season, first on a road course, and allowed him to pull within 52 points of Sadler in the race for the regular-season point title in the series.
Kyle Busch won the race, followed by Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. JRM’s Justin Allgaier was the top-finishing NASCAR Xfinity Series regular in fourth, and Paul Menard wound up fifth. Kevin Harvick, Ty Dillon, Erik Jones and Gaughan came next, with Byron rounding out the top 10.
William Byron, driver No. 9 Axalta/Progressive Powder Coatings INC team:
"It was good during the race to just put together some consistent runs. Some were better than others, but I was able to build on what I was feeling. I feel like we have something to build on going to Mid-Ohio next weekend, really happy with that, and we're just going to continue to get better. The braking zones were one of the things that I was working hard on, being precise and making passes that way, so hopefully we can take that with us to Mid-Ohio next week and start from there."
No. 9 Axalta/ Progressive Powder Coatings INC Chevrolet
Laps Completed (Led) 82 of 82 (0)
Points (Bonus) 27 (0)
Standings (from leader) 2nd (-52)