Byron: Indy Road Course Will Be Interesting

24 WILLIAM BYRON

Age: 23 (Nov. 29, 1997)

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle

Standings: 3rd

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No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE

BEST YEAR YET: After 23 races in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron is having his best season yet at the highest level of competition in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. So far, Byron has collected one win (Homestead-Miami Speedway), one pole (Road America), eight top-five finishes and 15 top-10s (tied for the fourth-most by a driver this season) all while leading 245 laps and collecting three stage wins. His eight top-five finishes and 15 top-10s are the most the 23-year-old driver has earned in a season at the Cup level.

THREE TO GO: With only three more races until the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begin, Byron continues to be a model of consistency. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has spent 4,076 laps running in the top 10 – the second-most in the series – and 2,194 laps in the top five – the third-most throughout the field. Byron holds the third-best average running position in the Cup Series of 8.91 and an average finishing position of 11.65, placing him in third for the driver points standings.

HISTORY MAKER: While this weekend’s event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course is considered a new venue for Cup Series drivers, Byron has made history at the venue before. In 2017, Byron made his first trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. While battling for a championship, Byron became the youngest driver to win a major race at the historic 2.5-mile oval at 19 years, 7 months and 23 days.

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?: Byron would love to kiss the bricks again this weekend, and if he does, he will add to the already lengthy legacy the No. 24 has at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dating back to 1994, Jeff Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 before going on to win the crown jewel event four more times – the most by a car number at IMS. On Sunday, the Cup Series will compete on the IMS road course for the first time and Byron will have the chance to extend the history of the No. 24 if he captures the checkered flag for the first-time event like Gordon did 27 years ago.

ROAD COURSE RESULTS: Despite limited road course racing in his background, Byron has stepped up his road course skills throughout his time in the Cup Series, finishing in the top 10 in four of the last eight races. In five of the last 10 road course events, Byron has led laps, including leading the most during last year’s race at the Charlotte ROVAL. Byron has also led the fifth-most laps on road courses during the 2021 season (20). Two of Byron’s total Cup Series stage wins have come during road course races.

ROAD COURSE RUDY: While this will be the first time for most at the IMS road course, crew chief Rudy Fugle is poised to take on the 2.43-mile venue using his road course knowledge. Already in 2021, Fugle and Byron have five road course starts together. While the duo’s good road course runs aren’t shown in their finishes this season, they turned their luck around last Sunday and scored a sixth-place result at Watkins Glen International. Aside from five road course starts in the Cup Series, Fugle has seven other road course races under his belt, all coming in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In those seven starts, Fugle has one win (Erik Jones, 2015), three top-five finishes and five top-10s. One of those seven truck starts was also with Byron where the duo raced to a 10th-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in 2016.

ALL ABOUT AXALTA: When the Cup Series takes on the Indy road course for the first time, Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Now in its 29th year of partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta will return as primary partner on Byron’s No. 24 for 14 races in 2021.

PADDING THE RECORD: With Kyle Larson’s performance Sunday at Watkins Glen International, Hendrick Motorsports extended its NASCAR Cup Series record for all-time road-course victories to 24, which is 11 more than any other team. The organization has won on road courses with a series-high seven different drivers: Jeff Gordon (nine wins), Chase Elliott (seven), Tim Richmond (three), Larson (two), Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Rudd and Geoff Bodine. Hendrick Motorsports also has the most road course stage wins of any team with 11.

ROAD RUNNERS: In NASCAR Cup Series road races since 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has gone to victory lane in nine of 13 events, including eight of the last nine. The team has won 10 of 24 stages (the most) and led more than anyone else with 502 of 1,140 laps (44%). It has posted four 1-2 finishes during the stretch, all coming in the last eight races.

DÉJÀ VU: Sunday will mark the Cup Series’ first-ever race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 27 years after NASCAR’s debut at the historic venue. On Aug. 6, 1994, Hendrick Motorsports won the inaugural event on the IMS oval with driver Gordon. Dating back to that race, Hendrick Motorsports has won six of the last 13 Cup events held on new tracks, including three of the last four. In 2021, the team has gone to victory lane at two of the three new tracks on the circuit: Elliott at Circuit of The Americas and Larson at Nashville Superspeedway.

INDY TRENDY: Although Hendrick Motorsports has never raced on the venue’s road course, it has posted a record 10 NASCAR Cup Series wins competing on the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval – twice the total of any other team. The organization holds the track records for Cup Series top-five finishes (27), top-10s (42) and laps led (1,030). Its five Cup pole positions on the Indy oval are tied for the most.

NINE ON THE LINE: Over the last 11 NASCAR Cup Series points races, Hendrick Motorsports has won eight times (most), scored six-runner-up results (most), finished 1-2 on five occasions (most), won 10 of 26 stages (most), and led 1,335 of 2,221 laps raced (60%). With 44 total entries across the most recent 11 events, the team has scored 21 top-five finishes (most) and 29 top-10s (most).

23 AND WE: After 23 of 36 points-paying races in 2021, the four-car Hendrick Motorsports stable has won 11 times, which is its most ever at this time of the year. Its 16 stage wins are the most in history by any organization going into the 24th points race. Hendrick Motorsports has its most top-five finishes (36) and posted its fourth-most laps led (2,083) at the 23-event mark. The team’s 56 top-10s in 2021 represent the second-most by anyone ever at this point in a season.

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on preparing and racing the Indy road course for the first time: “I think it’s going to be really interesting. I honestly would compare it to the ROVAL just based on the laps I have run already on the Chevy simulator. I feel like a lot of the corners are low speed but there are also very high-speed braking zones to manage, as well, like the ROVAL. There’s a lot of tight radius corners, too, but I feel like that’s going to make for good racing. Continuing to prep for this weekend, I’m going to re-watch the Xfinity Series race from there last year and then Saturday’s race, as well. Their cars are pretty similar to us, especially on the road courses with their horsepower and downforce package. They’re a little bit slower than our cars but the characteristics are the same.”

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

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