Date: March 4, 2018
Race 3 of 36: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval / 267 laps / 400.5 miles
Standings (from leader): 24th (-92)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Las Vegas Motor Speedway proved to be a bit of a challenge for William Byron and the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team on Sunday. After two solid practice sessions on Saturday, the outlook was promising, but the car was a handful for Byron at the start of the 267-lap race. The No. 24 team made improvements over the course of the day and Byron stayed out of trouble, persevering to finish 27th.
After rolling off the grid in the top 20, Byron fell back in the pack early in the race, dropping to the 29th position and losing a lap to the leaders just before the halfway point of the first segment. When a number of competitors made green-flag pit stops between Laps 36 and 40, the NASCAR Cup Series rookie briefly moved all the way up to fifth and regained his lap, but he lost his position when he headed to pit road later in the stage. He continued to battle a tight handling condition combined with a lack of lateral grip and by the end of Stage 1, Byron was 32nd, two laps down.
Continuing to battle in Stage 2, Byron lost another lap to the leaders following a green-flag pit stop. Crew chief Darian Grubb called for additional adjustments to the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet and the car started to show improvement as Byron found his groove running the high line. With his lap times starting to pick up, Byron finished the segment 30th.
In the final segment, Byron progressed to running top-15 lap times at multiple points as the crew continued to adjust on his Axalta Camaro. He advanced to 27th following a caution on Lap 183. Unfortunately, the long green-flag run at the end of the race didn't allow him to make up the laps he had lost earlier, and he took the checkered flag in 27th.
Jimmie Johnson led the Hendrick Motorsports contingent to the checkered flag with a 12th-place finish, while Alex Bowman followed in 16th. Chase Elliott was involved in an early incident while running in the top 10, relegating him to a 34th-place result.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
"We started pretty far off and we tried to get the balance better. We were in a bit of a box with the setup. I felt like we were manageable by the end of the race and could at least maintain our lap times a little bit more on the top groove. Everyone on the Axalta Chevrolet team fought hard, and we'll move on to Phoenix. It's a short track, so it'll be a whole different animal there. We're looking forward to it."