Date: Oct. 28, 2018
Race 33 of 36: Martinsville Speedway
Track Specs: 0.526-mile oval / 500 laps / 263 miles
Standings (from leader): 24th (-3581)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
With a solid starting position, William Byron and the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team had high hopes coming into Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. Unfortunately, damage from an incident on pit road created problems for the No. 24 team that led to a broken brake rotor, causing an early end to the afternoon for Byron and the team.
Taking the green flag in 11th, Byron battled the handling on his No. 24 Liberty University Chevy in the early going. When the first caution flag waved on Lap 43, the NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year contender was 17th. Byron radioed that his race car was tight in the center, but loose on entry, identifying the loose entry as what was hurting him the most. With a quick pit stop for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, the Liberty University pit crew gained two spots on pit road, putting Byron 15th for the restart. He fell to 19th by the time the next caution occurred on Lap 72, but stayed out on the track during the caution period and lined up 17th for the next restart. Byron continued to fight the loose-in condition throughout the remainder of Stage 1 and ended the segment in 29th.
During the stage break, Byron brought the No. 24 Liberty University Camaro to pit road, but another competitor made contact with the No. 24 Chevy as Byron was trying to get into his pit stall, sending Byron spinning backwards into his stall. After getting turned around, Byron was able to get the car into the pit stall, but he lost a lap to the leaders in the process, and the contact resulted in damage that ripped one of the brake cooling hoses off the Liberty University Chevy. Nevertheless, the No. 24 team was able to get Byron back out on the track and he lined up 34th for the beginning of Stage 2.
The lack of the cooling hose meant Byron had to conserve his brakes as much as possible during the next run. He persisted and began to make up ground during the second segment. He lost another lap to the leaders but managed to move up eight positions to finish Stage 2 in 26th. He radioed that his Chevy was wheel-hopping frequently on corner entry and mentioned that he was having to be very careful with the brakes. During the stage break, the No. 24 pit crew pulled tape off the grill to try to help keep the brakes cool, along with providing Byron with four fresh tires and fuel.
Byron lined up 26th for the final segment and continued to manage his brakes as he averaged top-eight lap times. He picked up a position and was running 25th when he told the Liberty University crew over the radio on Lap 345 that he was losing brake pressure. Byron fell to 27th before a brake rotor broke on the No. 24 Chevy, sending him into the wall. The contact ended Byron’s day, relegating him to a 39th-place finish.
Chase Elliott led his teammates to the finish line, taking the checkered flag in seventh. He was followed to the line by Jimmie Johnson in 12th and Alex Bowman in 17th.