|THE LAST FIVE: Despite misfortune Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, William Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team are optimistic their recent surge of momentum will continue. In his last five starts, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has racked up two top-10 results, including a season-best finish of seventh at Pocono Raceway. With an average finish of 12.67 in the last five races, Byron ranks sixth overall in the Cup Series.
EYES ON THE PLAYOFFS: Looking to lock himself into the playoffs for the second time in his three-year NASCAR Cup Series career, Byron is 14th in the standings with two playoff points to his name. While a win in one of the upcoming points-paying races would automatically secure his position in the fight for the championship, Byron is currently 48 points above the playoff cutline heading into the Kentucky Speedway weekend.
BLUEGRASS STATE BOUND: Sunday’s race will mark Byron’s third Cup Series start at Kentucky Speedway. With a best finish of 18th, Byron’s results don’t accurately depict the speed he has displayed at the 1.5-mile track. Last year, the driver was running within the top five for the first half of the race. However, during a restart in the final stage, Byron was called for a penalty, forcing him down pit road and off the lead lap before crossing the finish line in 18th.
KENTUCKY CONQUER: In his lone NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series start at Kentucky Speedway in 2016, Byron qualified in the third position, led 70 laps and collected the victory. He became the first winner on the newly repaved and reconfigured track.
KNAUS NEEDS KENTUCKY: Kentucky Speedway is one of only four active NASCAR Cup Series racetracks where crew chief Chad Knaus has yet to claim a victory. Despite calling nine races at the 1.5-mile venue, third place (2011) is the closest Knaus has come to taking home a checkered flag. With eight of those nine starts coming with driver Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, the veteran crew chief has one pole (2012), one top-five finish and five top-10s. His most recent showing at Kentucky came with Byron and the No. 24 team last season when Knaus put the then-sophomore driver in contention for the win. However, a late-race restart penalty left the duo with an 18th-place finish.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, KNAUS: For the second time in 2020, Knaus will transition from crew chief of the No. 24 Camaro ZL1 1LE to television analyst when he joins Adam Alexander and Clint Bowyer in the FOX Sports booth Thursday for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway. The broadcast is scheduled for July 9 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.
AXALTA ON BOARD: Byron will look to bring the heat to the track Sunday afternoon in both speed and appearance. When the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team unloads at Kentucky Speedway, the Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will have the iconic flames back on board. Axalta is the 22-race majority partner of the No. 24 team for the 2020 season. The company’s relationship with Hendrick Motorsports was extended in February of this year, taking one of the most enduring partnerships in sports through 2027.
INDY IN THE REARVIEW: Starting 18th in the Brickyard 400, Byron worked through traffic to ultimately win Stage 1 of Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – his second stage win of 2020. While pit strategy cycled him outside the top-10 running order for the start of Stage 2, Byron regained the lead halfway through the stage. However, after lining up for a restart just before the halfway point, he experienced a flat left-front tire almost immediately upon taking the green, forcing him to pit road for damage repair. The Liberty University team was able to repair the damage, but Byron was multiple laps down, resulting in a 27th-place finish.
ALL-STAR RACE VOTING: For the first time in Cup Series history, the 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race will be held on the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway, and Byron is looking to lock himself in. Last year, the driver of the No. 24 battled his way into the main event by winning the first stage of the Open qualifying race in a stellar last-corner pass. However, if Byron isn’t able to lock himself in to the All-Star Race before July 15 by winning a points-paying Cup Series event, he will have three chances during the Open qualifier by winning one of the stages or by receiving the fan vote. Currently Byron is ranked fourth in the voting with only a few days left. Fans can place their vote once per day, with votes shared on social media counting double, at NASCAR.com/fanvote until 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 14. The winner of the fan vote will be announced immediately following the conclusion of the Open qualifying race on Wednesday, July 15.