JR Motorsports Race Report
Saturday, September 2, 2017
Race 24 of 33: Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway
Track Specs: 1.366-mile oval / 147 laps
Weather: Partly Cloudy; 84 degrees
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin
Byron's Finish: 5th
William Byron captured his eighth top-five finish on Saturday afternoon at Darlington Raceway after bringing the Liberty University Chevrolet home in fifth. Byron was the highest finishing NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie in the race and remains second in the championship standings, 91 markers behind first.
Byron qualified sixth for the 147-lap event on Saturday. The team knew they had a good Liberty University Camaro and a good starting position. When the first caution was shown on lap 1, Byron was in the fifth position and told the team that his car was pretty good. On lap 9, the Charlotte-native radioed to the team and said he was a little tight. When the third caution was shown on lap 33, Byron relayed that his balance was free while running fifth. At the end of Stage One the Liberty University machine was scored in the ninth position and the team elected to pit for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment.
The 19-year-old began Stage Two from the eighth position. Fifteen laps into the stage, Byron radioed to the team that his Chevy was loose the entire run. When the caution flag was waived on lap 72, Byron told the team that his car turned a lot better and that the track was getting looser. The call from the box was to stay out on track and Byron restarted eighth. With five laps to go in the stage, the Liberty University machine was scored in eighth and was loose on entry. Byron ended Stage Two in the ninth position and came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. Following the stop, the team decided that the left rear wheel was loose and the team called Byron back to pit road for four additional tires.
Byron restarted from the 28th position on lap 97 and when the caution came out just three laps later, the JR Motorsports driver had advanced seven positions. With 41 laps remaining in the 147-lap event, Byron was running in the 14th position and told the team that they made a really good adjustment. The rookie driver continued to pick off competitors and when the caution came out with 10 laps to go, the Liberty University team elected to pit from the 11th position for four tires and fuel. Byron restarted from the 10th position.
The final caution of the day was shown with five laps remaining and Byron was able to avoid the wreck in front of him and come out fourth for the restart. In his first start at the 1.366-mile raceway, Byron scored a fifth-place finish.
Denny Hamlin brought home the win and was followed by Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones and Byron rounding out the top five.
William Byron's Thoughts:
"I thought we had a pretty good run in our Liberty University Chevrolet today. We started out pretty solid in qualifying and got ourselves in a good position during the first couple of runs. We had that deal on pit road with the left rear tire, so we had to start at the back and work our way back up. The adjustments these guys made helped the car and we were able to get back up to 10th under green, then to fourth for the last restart and finish fifth. This was a good effort for us. I am really honored to run the throwback paint scheme honoring Ricky (Hendrick) and get a good finish in this car. Now our focus turns to next week in Richmond."
No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro
Laps Completed (Led): 148 of 148 (0)
Points (Bonus): 36 (0)
Point Standings (from leader): 2nd (-91)