Byron Needs To Grab A Higher Gear At Bristol

William Byron

William Byron
No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

Driver William Byron Hometown Charlotte, North Carolina
Age 22 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina


2020 Season
13th in standings
28 starts

1 win

0 pole positions

3 top-five finishes

10 top-10 finishes

97 laps led

Career

100 starts
1 win
5 pole positions
8 top-five finishes
27 top-10 finishes
391 laps led

Track Career

5 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
0 top-five finishes
1 top-10 finish
0 laps led

CALLING HIS SHOT: Heading to the final race in the Round of 16, William Byron currently sits three points below the cut line and looks to advance in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. While he may start the race on the outside looking in, the gap between 10th place and 13th in the playoff standings is tight. Currently sitting 13th, Byron has outscored 12th-place driver Clint Bowyer by more than three points in three of the last four races. Meanwhile, the third-year Cup Series driver is only seven points behind 10th-place Aric Almirola. In the last four races at Bristol Motor Speedway, Almirola has finished at least seven positions behind the driver of the No. 24. Byron is also only seven points behind Kurt Busch, who is 11th in the standings. Over the last six races this season, Byron has averaged 10.6 more points per race than Busch.

NIGHT RIDER: While Saturday night’s race at Richmond may not have gone the way the No. 24 team wanted, Byron still has continued success running under the lights. In the last six races run at night, including his August win at Daytona, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has finished inside the top 10 five times. Those five top-10 results tie Byron with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman and six other drivers as the fifth-most top-10s in 2020 night races.

BATTLE AT BRISTOL: This weekend, Byron will make his sixth NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol Motor Speedway. He has a best qualifying effort of second at “The Last Great Colosseum,” lining up alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott in April 2019. In the May Bristol event, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native raced his way to an eighth-place finish – a personal track-best performance. Just two months later in July, the Cup Series returned to Bristol Motor Speedway for the NASCAR All-Star Race, where Byron won the opening stage the Open race and locked himself into the main event.

KNAUS’ KNOWLEDGE: With 37 Bristol Motor Speedway starts already under his belt, Saturday night’s race will mark No. 38 for veteran crew chief Chad Knaus at the half-mile track. With two wins, two pole awards, 12 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s coming with Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, Knaus most recently added a top-10 finish to his BMS stats after an eighth-place result with Byron and the No. 24 team in May. The No. 24 group followed it up with a stage win in the All-Star Open race held at Bristol in July, locking themselves into the $1 million showdown.

LAPS WITH LIBERTY: Wrapping up a four-race stretch, Liberty University will be on board the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Saturday night’s race at Bristol, followed by Texas Motor Speedway the last week of October and Martinsville Speedway in November. Liberty University is in its sixth season of sponsoring the 22-year-old driver dating back to his time in the late model ranks. Liberty has been Training Champions for Christ since it was founded in 1971. Located in the mountains of Central Virginia, Liberty is a liberal arts institution with 17 colleges and schools that offers more than 600 degree programs from the certificate to the doctoral level, on campus and online. Working on an undergraduate degree in business communications, Byron is in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program.

CLOSE TO HOME: Chris Burkey, the pit crew coach for the Nos. 9 and 24 teams, hails from Greeneville, Tennessee, which is only 47 miles southwest of Bristol Motor Speedway. Burkey has an extensive background in coaching, getting his start in football. He played for Wingate University, where he eventually started his coaching career. Burkey coached college football from 1992 to 2005 for Wingate, East Tennessee and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2005, he joined the NFL’s Miami Dolphins as a scout. Looking for a new challenge, Burkey made the transition from football to NASCAR when he was hired as a developmental pit crew coach for Hendrick Motorsports in 2009. He moved up to the head coach position for the former No. 5 team and the No. 24 team in 2014.

MOMENTUM INTO BRISTOL: Hendrick Motorsports is carrying momentum into Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff showdown at Bristol Motor Speedway. In each of the last six races, the team has led laps, placed multiple cars inside the top 10 and recorded at least one top-five finish. During that stretch, Hendrick Motorsports has the most or is tied for the most in the series in wins (two), top-five finishes (10) and top-10s (15). It also has one runner-up finish, one stage win and 207 laps led in those events. The team’s average result of 11.63 over the last half-dozen races is the best of all Cup-level organizations.

LOOKING FOR 12: At the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway, car owner Rick Hendrick has 11 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victories with a track record six different drivers. Jeff Gordon (five) and Jimmie Johnson (two) have won multiple races there for Hendrick Motorsports while Darrell Waltrip (1989), Terry Labonte (1995), Kyle Busch (2007) and Kasey Kahne (2013) have also gone to Bristol victory lane for the team. Most recently, Chase Elliott won the July 15 non-points NASCAR All-Star Race at the track.

NOT SHORT ON WINS: Going into Saturday night’s playoff race at Bristol, Hendrick Motorsports has 50 Cup Series wins on short tracks – the most among active teams. Ten different drivers have posted a short-track victory for car owner Rick Hendrick, which is one away from tying the NASCAR record held by Junior Johnson and Associates.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: Since the inception of the format in 2004, Hendrick Motorsports has 44 NASCAR Cup Series playoff wins – 16 more than any other team. The organization has scored at least one playoff victory in a record 15 different seasons, missing only 2017. A series-topping seven different drivers have won a playoff race for Hendrick Motorsports.

MORE STATS: Since its inception in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has earned 260 race victories and holds the all-time records for championships (12), pole positions (226), top-five finishes (1,092), top-10s (1,884) and laps led (70,123) in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Including 2020, the organization has won at least one race in 35 consecutive seasons, the longest-ever streak. Hendrick Motorsports is eight wins away from tying Petty Enterprises’ all-time Cup record of 268.

Driver William Byron on his mindset for Bristol:

“I have confidence for this weekend at Bristol after our performance in the spring race and the All-Star Race. We ran well in both races this year, plus all four races that I’ve run there with Chad (Knaus) on the pit box have been good. We’ve just had circumstances out of our control. I think Hendrick Motorsports as whole runs well at Bristol, too. Chase (Elliott) showed that with his All-Star Race win in the summer. That just means we have a good notebook to utilize for our setup. Overall, I have confidence for this Saturday’s race. We just need to focus on the details, execute all race and we’ll accomplish what we need to.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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