Date: April 8, 2018
Race 7 of 36: Texas Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval / 334 laps / 501 miles
Standings (from leader): 18th (-181)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
After starting at the rear of the field due to an engine change on Friday, William Byron earned his first career top-10 finish in the NASCAR Cup Series in Sunday's 501-mile race at Texas Motor Speedway. He led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the checkered flag with his 10th-place finish in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
The weekend started out rough for the No. 24 team when they experienced an oil system failure during the first laps of practice on Friday. However, once the Liberty University team made the engine change, Byron quickly found speed at the Fort Worth, Texas, oval. He started in the rear of the 37-car field, but didn't waste any time moving forward once the green flag waved. By Lap 7, the Cup rookie was up 12 spots to 25th. Before the first cycle of green-flag pit stops, Byron had moved into the top 20.
On Lap 60, Byron had the No. 24 Liberty University Chevy up to 15th. He lost a lap to the leader just before the end of Stage 1, and finished the opening segment in 16th. After a four-tire stop on the stage break, Byron lined up 23rd for the restart, but quickly worked his way back up and into free-pass position. When a caution flag waved on Lap 126, he was 16th and earned his lap back with the free pass. He lined up 15th for the ensuing restart and gained two spots to end Stage 2 in the 13th position.
When the final segment began, Byron jumped to ninth, but incurred some cosmetic damage to the right rear of the No. 24 Liberty University Camaro during an incident just one lap into the final stage. After two pit stops for repairs during the caution, Byron lined up 11th for the restart on Lap 183. Over the next 38 laps, he picked up two spots and was running ninth when another cycle of green-flag stops began. He stayed out to lead a lap before coming to pit road for his four-tire stop. The caution came out as Byron was getting back on the track, and he restarted eighth with 94 laps to go.
After another caution period and a cycle of green-flag stops, Byron was running just outside the top 10. The final caution occurred on Lap 304 and Byron had the No. 24 Chevy in 12th. Once the green flag waved, he gained two additional spots to finish 10th. The top-10 finish - the first of his Cup career - helped propel Byron two spots forward in the points standings to 18th.
Chase Elliott was the next Hendrick Motorsports driver to cross the finish line, coming home just behind Byron in 11th. Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson were involved in multi-car incidents, finishing 28th and 35th, respectively.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
"It was really good for us to get a top-10 - we had a good Liberty University Chevy. We had a lot of adversity and kept having to go to the back. So, it's good to come back from that and get a top-10 - it feels awesome. We were really good in practice, but I think some of our weaknesses showed up when rubber was laid down on the track a little bit in the bottom groove. Repaves are really treacherous and the restarts were so sketchy, but I learned a couple of things with adjustments in the car to help for that. The (No. 24 pit crew) guys did a good job on green-flag stops. Overall, it was a pretty solid day and we can definitely build on this. We had a ton of things happen, but I thought that we ended up about where we should have."