In dominating fashion, William Byron and the No. 24 Valvoline Camaro ZL1 team recorded their series-leading fifth NASCAR Cup Series win of the 2023 season.
· The win – Byron’s first road course win in NASCAR’s top series – is Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports’ fifth consecutive NCS win at Watkins Glen International.
· Chevrolet now sits at 22 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins at Watkins Glen International, and its 13th win in the series this season – both of which are manufacturer-leading feats.
· Chevrolet has made its way to victory lane in 17 of the past 22 NASCAR Cup Series road course events – dating back to Chase Elliott’s victory at Watkins Glen International in August 2019.
· The winningest manufacturer in NASCAR Cup Series history, Chevrolet now sits at 846 all-time wins in NASCAR’s premier series.
· For the second consecutive year, Chevrolet has swept the NASCAR Cup Series / NASCAR Xfinity Series doubleheader at Watkins Glen International, with JR Motorsports’ Sam Mayer taking the Bowtie brand to victory lane in yesterday’s NXS race at the New York road course.
|TOP TEAM CHEVY UNOFFICIAL TOP-10 RESULTS:POS. DRIVER1st William Byron, No. 24 Valvoline Camaro ZL14th AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Celsius Camaro ZL1|
TOP-FIVE UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: POS. DRIVER1. William Byron (Chevrolet)2. Denny Hamlin (Toyota)3. Christopher Bell (Toyota)4. AJ Allmendinger (Chevrolet)5. Ty Gibbs (Toyota)
The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series regular season concludes at Daytona International Speedway with the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, August 26, at 3 p.m. ET. Live coverage can be found on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
TEAM CHEVY POST-RACE QUOTES:
William Byron, No. 24 Valvoline Camaro ZL1
“It feels really good, man. It’s a huge credit to the race team behind me. I want to thank Max Papis for this. This is the first road-course win, and we’ve worked years and years for this. Just thanks to him. I know he’s watching back home. Thanks to all the guys on the team, Valvoline, Liberty, Axalta. I did a lot of laps this weekend on iRacing this week. I got a new simulator at home, so thanks to those guys. Just thanks to everyone back home who supports me. It’s a great win. I don’t know what it means and all that. I don’t read into that, but I think it shows that when we are at our best we can perform like this.”
HOW BIG WAS THIS AFTER FIVE WINS BUT A SUMMER SLIDE?
“We seemed to go through that summer slump in July and August. For some reason we can’t quite put the races together. I think it’s the racetracks itself. We came this weekend with a good mindset, focusing on getting ready for the postseason. We’ve had fast cars but we just haven’t executed races. Today was just faultless. Rudy (Fugle, crew chief), everybody, all the spotters… thanks to everybody. This is a cool win. Road courses have been tough, so it’s fun to get a win.”
THE CALL BY RUDY TO GO ONE LAP LONGER ON THAT FIRST RUN.
“It’s just really good strategy by those guys. Brandon McSwain on the box. Those two guys work really good together, Ryan and Kelly at the shop … It was kind of like the old F1-style – stay out, get clean air, get a good lap in and we pitted there and got the lead. It was kind of ours from there. Just really proud of the team and it’s really awesome to get a road-course win.”
DESCRIBE HOW GOOD OF A DAY IT WAS.
“It was awesome. It was a great Valvoline Chevy. I was able do what I needed to do to build a little bit of a gap. Thanks to this whole team. It’s been a fun weekend. We’ve had a great car all weekend and just tried to execute a good race. Road courses haven’t been our strength as a group, but we’ve been working really hard at it. I’m really thankful for the whole group. I feel like this sets up well for the playoffs.”
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO GET TO THE POINT OF A WINNING FORM ON ROAD COURSES?
“Just lots of little details – the braking, the shifting, just lots of little inputs that make a difference. There’s still room to grow on all the other road courses but we had a good run at COTA this year, and Watkins Glen was just killer today.”
AS A DRIVER, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CHECK THE ROAD-COURSE WIN OFF THE BOX NOW?
“It’s awesome. It says a lot about our team and what we are capable of. I’m just thankful for them. We had a good test here last year and learned a lot. It didn’t apply to last year’s race so we didn’t run great. This year we really honed in on the things we needed. I’m just really proud of the whole group. It sets us up well for the rest of the year. We have to keep pushing.”
MOMENTUM FOR THE PLAYOFFS?
“It’s really important. We go through our process every week. I was finally back at home all week this week. I wasn’t running any Late Models or doing anything else. So it was fun to be a little more relaxed coming into today, and it paid off.”
AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Celsius Camaro ZL1
“It was tough. These last couple of weeks… these cars are more physically hard to drive than the old Cup car. With the tires not falling off, you still feel like you’re running Q laps. I’m proud of everyone at Kaulig Racing. The Celsius Chevy was fast. I think if we could have gotten up there and cleared the Toyotas there, maybe we had something for William. It’s so hard to pass in dirty air. We wanted to win but I’m super proud of everyone at Kaulig Racing. We’re getting better. Last week was disappointing. I’m proud of myself. I felt like I made no mistakes. That was all I had all day today. It’s something to build on.”
DOES THAT CARRY OVER TO DAYTONA NEXT WEEK?
“For our race team, the playoffs would be great to get into. Our ultimate goal is to keep building and get better. The last couple of weeks we’ve had some speed and struggles. Then we’ve struggled with speed at other places. It’s about building. Of course we want to win. We want to get in the playoffs. We’ll lay it all on the line next week doing it. But it’s just about building momentum and trying to get better. I’m always trying to get better. The team is making me better. Just a good day.”
Mike Rockenfeller, No. 42 Sunseeker Resorts Camaro ZL1
“Starting from 21st and only finishing 19th is for sure not what we were hoping for or what I was hoping for. On the first pitstop, we had an issue on the left side with the jack and we lost a ton of time there. That probably cost us eight spots, but that’s how it is. The car was tricky to drive but for sure we learned a lot again in the race. The last stint, I would say, after the restart we were quite OK. At the very end, I was just hanging on. Getting three positions on the last lap was nice and made a top-20 finish, which at the end is still my best result. Thanks to the team and everybody for letting me hop in the seat and try to do my best. I hope to come back.”
Erik Jones, No. 43 Allegiant Camaro ZL1
“Not a very good day. I started in the back, had an issue and went to the back again. That’s pretty much all we had. It went all-green. I hope next week at Daytona will be better. It’s the last shot to win and try to get in the playoffs. So we’ll try to go do that.”
· William Byron and the No. 24 Valvoline Camaro ZL1 team posted their 17th top-10 qualifying effort of the season at Watkins Glen International – taking a front row starting spot for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Go Bowling at The Glen.
· Byron settled his Camaro ZL1 into the third position on the race’s opening lap. Quickly making a pass for second, Byron started closing the gap to the race leader to only a half-second margin at the halfway point of the stage.
· The first round of pit stops got underway with four laps to go in Stage One. Pit strategy among the lead pack saw teams opting to stay out for stage points, with Byron leading Team Chevy to the conclusion of Stage One from the second position.
· Four drivers from three different Chevrolet teams collected points in Stage One:
2nd William Byron, No. 24 Valvoline Camaro ZL1
5th AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Celsius Camaro ZL1
6th Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1
9th Kyle Busch, No. 8 Mark III Camaro ZL1
· With no stage breaks on road courses, the race continued under green-flag conditions for the 20-lap Stage Two. Maintaining a steady pace in the second position, crew chief Rudy Fugle called Byron down pit road on lap 22 for the team’s first pit stop of the day – taking four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment on the No. 24 Valvoline Camaro ZL1.
· When then-race leader McDowell was faced with a penalty on pit road, Byron rejoined the field to takeover the top position as the leaderboard cycled through at the conclusion of green-flag pit stops.
· Leading his first-ever laps in NASCAR’s top series at Watkins Glen International, Byron continued to manage the lead with a nearly one-second gap over second place as the laps wound down in Stage Two. With three-laps to go in the stage, Byron reported that he was fighting the left rear of his Camaro ZL1 during the long run.
· The race continued caution-free with Byron leading the field to the end of Stage Two at lap 40 – collecting his series-leading eighth stage win of the season.
· Byron led Team Chevy to six top-10 finishes in Stage Two:
1st William Byron, No. 24 Valvoline Camaro ZL1
4th Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1
5th AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Celsius Camaro ZL1
7th Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1
8th Kyle Busch, No. 8 Mark III Camaro ZL1
10th Austin Dillon, No. 3 Okuma Camaro ZL1
FINAL STAGE / POST-RACE NOTES:
· Continuing to pace the field in his No. 24 Valvoline Camaro ZL1, Byron is told the lead pack is struggling in traffic, giving the Team Chevy driver the opportunity to build and manage the gap back to second place.
· Pulling away to a 3.9-second lead with 40 laps remaining, Byron reported that he settled into a steady pace to cool off his tires. The Team Chevy driver also reported to his team that he was happy with the handling of his Camaro ZL1, just fighting slightly tight conditions in turn seven.
· On lap 55, crew chief Rudy Fugle brought Byron down pit road for another set of four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. As Byron rejoined the field, the race’s first caution flew for his Hendrick Motorsports’ teammate Chase Elliott with the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1 team running out of fuel just short of the team’s scheduled pit stop.
· Those that still needed to complete their scheduled stops came to pit road under the caution, cycling Byron back to the lead with 30 laps to go.
· Taking the green flag for the final restart of the race, Byron regained control of the lead and never looked back – recording his series-leading fifth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season.
Inside Track Communications PR