Date: April 29, 2018
Race 10 of 36: Talladega Superspeedway
Track Specs: 2.66-mile oval / 188 laps / 500.08 miles
Standings (from leader): 20th (-245)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Things were going well for William Byron and the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, until Byron got caught up in a multiple-car incident with less than 25 laps to go in the race. The NASCAR Cup Series rookie led 14 laps in his first Cup race at Talladega and earned stage points in the second segment before his day ended in the garage.
Byron began Sunday’s race 17th, but by Lap 20 he had made it all the way to the runner-up position as some competitors headed to pit road for green-flag pit stops. He reported that the No. 24 Liberty University Chevy was too tight in the bottom lane, but he found speed running up top. Following a green-flag stop of his own for right-side tires, Byron settled into 19th and ultimately finished Stage 1 in 21st.
After taking left-side tires between stages, Byron lined up fourth for the Stage 2 restart. On the restart, he jumped up to second, and in the outside lane he took the lead on Lap 62, holding it for a pair of laps before the inside lane took over the advantage and the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 lost the lead. Byron regained the lead for one lap on Lap 67, but fell outside of the top 10 when he made a green-flag pit stop for fuel with 20 laps remaining in Stage 2. He rejoined the field in 18th and narrowly missed a multi-car incident four laps later, which put him 14th. The race restarted with 22 laps remaining in Stage 2 and Byron maintained his position just outside of the top 10. With 10 laps to go in the stage, Byron worked both lanes to pass some of his competitors and completed the segment in ninth place, picking up two extra points for the finish.
After another two-tire stop between stages, Byron began the final segment in the race lead once again, which he held for 11 laps before losing first place. After he was passed, he began to fall back in the pack as he was shuffled out of line, eventually dropping to 20th. Working his way back forward through two additional caution periods, Byron lined up 14th for the restart on Lap 159. On Lap 164, he was running ninth, but was involved in a multiple-car incident on the following lap, and the damage to the No. 24 Liberty University Chevy forced Byron to the garage, ending his race. He was scored 29th.
Both Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman earned top-10 finishes for Hendrick Motorsports, finishing third and eighth, respectively. Jimmie Johnson sustained minor damage in the same incident that collected Byron, but Johnson was able to continue and he came 12th.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“Honestly, I think we just got side-drafted going into (Turn) 3, which got me a little bit free and then I think I just packed some air on his (Jimmie Johnson’s) left-rear. It was just unfortunate that we couldn’t get to the end of the race, but we’ll learn from it and come back here in the fall and hopefully have an even better run.”