Date: Nov. 4, 2018
Race 34 of 36: Texas Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval / 337 laps / 505.5 miles
Standings (from leader): 24th (-3599)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
William Byron had a solid day at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, bringing the No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 home with a 16th-place finish. He also came within five points of locking up rookie of the year honors for the NASCAR Cup Series, a feat which he will look to accomplish next week at ISM Raceway.
On Friday, Byron qualified ninth with the No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevy, but had to start from the rear after issues in pre-race technical inspection. However, it didn’t take him any time to begin his charge forward once the green flag waved on Sunday afternoon. By Lap 5, Byron was up to 23rd and seven laps later the driver had cracked the top 20 and was running 18th. Byron moved as high as 14th out of a Lap 36 restart following the competition caution, and he battled to remain inside the top 20 throughout the remainder of the segment to finish Stage 1 in 18th.
Byron was involved in a multiple-car incident on Lap 96 and was forced to take the No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevy to pit road for minor repairs. The No. 24 team repaired the left-front fender damage and Byron returned to the track, lining up 24th for the Lap 100 restart. In the ensuing laps, he got to work quickly and gained three positions to move into 21st on Lap 103. After another 23 laps, he was inside the top 20 and during a cycle of green-flag pit stops, he had moved as high as eighth. On Lap 153, Byron settled back into 21st as pit stops continued to cycle through, and hard racing saw the driver gain six positions in the closing laps of Stage 2, finishing inside the top 15 in 15th.
The Hendrick Autoguard driver continued to race inside the top 15 for the majority of the final segment, running in 14th for the opening laps. Byron reported that the No. 24 Chevy’s handling on entry to the corners had improved with the changes the crew had made over the last two pit stops, as he was loose on entry earlier in the race. By Lap 231, he had gained three more positions to move into 11th, and consistent racing saw Byron continue inside the top 15 down the stretch.
In the closing laps, Byron worked his way into the top 10 with under 40 laps to go. Following a restart on Lap 310, he jumped up to eighth, but fell to 13th by the time the next caution occurred on Lap 331. Byron came to pit road for four fresh tires and lined up 16th for the final restart in overtime. He wasn’t able to make up ground during the green-white-checkered finish and ended the race in 16th.
Chase Elliott led his teammates to the checkered flag in the second race of the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Elliott earned his second top-10 finish of the round, crossing the finish line in sixth. Alex Bowman was the next teammate to the checkered flag, taking home a 14th-place finish. Jimmie Johnson joined them inside the top 15 with a 15th-place result.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“We started in the back and worked our way forward from there. We fought a little bit of the same things we saw in practice, but I thought we had a couple of better runs in the race. A couple of runs were not so good, but at the end there, we tried to put on tires and make up a few spots and it just didn’t work out. Overall, it was a pretty solid day. We needed a solid day. It’s good to finish one off.”