Date: Oct. 7, 2018
Race 30 of 36: Dover International Speedway
Track Specs: One-mile oval / 404 laps / 404 miles
Standings (from leader): 22nd (-2597)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway, William Byron earned a top-20 finish in the No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and again secured rookie of the race honors. The race ended in overtime and Byron hung on for a 19th-place result.
After Friday’s qualifying session was rained out, the field was set by points and Byron rolled off 22nd. He got to work quickly in Sunday’s race and picked up three positions in the opening laps to move into 19th by Lap 5. The Hendrick Autoguard driver continued to race near the top 20 for the majority of the beginning laps in Stage 1. After the No. 24 team elected to have Byron pit at the beginning of a green-flag pit cycle, Byron initially was shuffled down to 30th on Lap 67, but the driver quickly regained his top-20 position. He moved back into 19th on Lap 79 and while he lost a lap to the leaders, Byron finished Stage 1 in the 19th position.
Byron radioed to the Hendrick Autoguard crew that the No. 24 Chevy was too tight on exit, lacking grip in the front tires, so they made an adjustment to the car on a four-tire stop during the stage break. Byron was shuffled outside the top 20 early in Stage 2, running 23rd by Lap 140. Over the next several laps, the driver worked his way forward, moving into 20th by Lap 165. He reported that the adjustments had helped slightly, and he remained consistent until the end of Stage 2. Although he went another lap down, he still finished the middle segment in 21st.
In the final stage, Byron took the green flag in 22nd. Even with another round of adjustments during the stage break, he continued to fight the handling on his No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevy and stayed in 22nd for most of the early portion of the stage, losing a third lap to the leaders. By Lap 314, he had moved up one position into 21st. On Lap 321, he made his final green-flag pit stop and rejoined the field in 23rd. As the cycle continued, he moved back into 21st and he advanced to 20th before a caution for debris on Lap 339.
Crew chief Darian Grubb had Byron stay on track to take the wave-around, gaining a lap back. Byron restarted 20th but fell to 22nd when he got stuck behind a slower car on the restart. He lost another lap just before a caution on Lap 392. Byron again stayed out to take the wave-around, putting him back to two laps down and in the 21st position. A multi-car incident on Lap 397 caused the race to be red-flagged, and after pitting for four tires and fuel, Byron lined up 20th for the restart. As the race went into overtime, Byron gained one more spot in the closing laps to take home a 19th-place finish.
Chase Elliott scored his second victory of the 2018 season, which also secured his spot in the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. While running inside the top 10, Alex Bowman was involved in a multiple-car incident with under five laps to go, ending his day early. He was scored 28th. Jimmie Johnson experienced an issue before the green flag even waved and was forced to take the No. 48 Chevy to the garage as competitors began the race. He returned to the track 10 laps behind the leader and battled to finish the day in 36th.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“We kind of just fought to keep our track position going forward. I thought we made a couple good calls to stay from going another lap down, but the car was pretty bad. Congrats to Chase for getting the win.”