ROOKIE OF THE YEAR TITLE LOOMS: William Byron will have a great chance to clinch NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year honors this weekend. The 20-year-old driver leads by 116 points in the standings over Bubba Wallace and will clinch the title if he finishes the race with a 61-point lead. Byron is on a roll of earning NASCAR rookie of the year titles to this point, going back-to-back-to-back in the Xfinity Series in 2017, the Camping World Truck Series in 2016 and the K&N Pro Series East in 2015. He would join Erik Jones as the second driver to win rookie of the year honors in the Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series in three consecutive seasons, and would join Jeff Gordon (1993), Kyle Busch (2005) and Chase Elliott (2016) as the fourth Hendrick Motorsports driver to win the title.
THE VALLEY OF THE SUN: Byron has a strong history of performing well at ISM Raceway. In the March Cup race, he started 11th and led 15 laps en route to a 12th-place finish. Byron started on the front row in both of his NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track in 2017, winning there in November and finishing fourth in the spring. Byron is the youngest winner ever at ISM Raceway in Xfinity at 19 years, 11 months and 13 days. In 2016, he led 112 laps in the Truck Series race before an engine failure. A win this weekend isn’t out of the question for the Cup rookie, and it has been done before by two drivers in their respective rookie seasons – Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch – who both won in the fall race at the one-mile track. The No. 24 Chevrolet also has a good history at ISM Raceway, visiting Victory Lane twice in the spring race with Gordon behind the wheel (2007 and 2011).
WINNING CREW CHIEF: Championship-winning No. 24 team crew chief Darian Grubb has recorded one win at ISM Raceway, which came in March 2012 with Denny Hamlin.
HERTZ SCHEME RETURNS: The yellow No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 returns to the track this weekend at ISM Raceway. As announced in May, the Hertz Corporation, one of the world’s largest vehicle rental companies, joined Hendrick Motorsports as a primary sponsor of Byron and his iconic No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team beginning in 2018. As part of the two-year agreement, Hertz will be primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in four points-paying Cup Series races in both 2018 and 2019 and an associate-level partner in all other events. Hertz will also be the primary partner on the No. 24 Chevy next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
HAPPY 100 YEARS, HERTZ: For its 100-year anniversary, Hertz is celebrating by giving customers a chance to win big with its sweepstakes featuring a grand prize of a Hertz 100th Anniversary Edition Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and weekly prizes of $250 vouchers to use at Hertz+, your access to unforgettable activities on and off the road. There are multiple ways to enter the sweepstakes, including: rent and complete any car rental from Hertz during the sweepstakes period and receive one entry per rental; be a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards member to automatically receive two entries per rental during the sweepstakes period; or book and complete any activity on Hertz’ new experience platform, Hertz+, and automatically receive two entries into the sweepstakes. For more information, visit http://www.hertz.com/hertzplussweeps. Offer ends on Dec. 14, 2018.
CLOSE TO HOME: Michael “TooTall” Madill, the underneath mechanic for the No. 24 Hertz team, hails from Glendale, Arizona, which is only half an hour from ISM Raceway. The 30-year-old grew up working on sprint cars before moving to North Carolina at 16 to pursue a career in NASCAR.
William Byron on racing at ISM Raceway:
“It’ll be a wild race – it’s a cutoff race and I feel like Phoenix (ISM Raceway) is just always a normal short track as far as the style of racing. You just do the things you need to do on a short track to be successful. I like racing there, it’s always been fun. The reconfiguration will create a little difference for the restarts, but other than that, I’m not expecting too much of a change. It’s the same racetrack with the same characteristics, so we’ll just try to go there and make sure we execute.”