Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron led Chevrolet to the finish in the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series Round of Eight at Homestead-Miami Speedway – driving his No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1 to a fourth-place result for the team’s14th top-five finish of the season.
· Three drivers from three different Chevrolet teams recorded top-10 finishes at the 1.5-mile South Florida oval with Byron leading Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger in fifth and Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon rounding out the top-10.
· Heading into the Round of Eight elimination race at Martinsville Speedway, William Byron sits third in the points standings with a 30-point advantage over the playoff cutline.
TOP TEAM CHEVY UNOFFICIAL TOP-10 RESULTS:
4th William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1
5th AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Campers Inn RV Camaro ZL1
10th Austin Dillon, No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Camaro ZL1
The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of Eight elimination race will get underway at Martinsville Speedway with the Xfinity 500 on Sunday, October 29, at 2 p.m. ET. Live coverage can be found on the NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
Ross Chastain, No. 1 Kubota Camaro ZL1
“We were outside the top-10 and needed to work our way back up into the top-five there. We needed to catch a lucky caution to be back into the mix. Just ran out of room — I don’t think it was anyone’s fault, just four-wide coming off turn two.”
Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1
Sidelined by damage sustained in an accident entering pit road in the final stage.
We know this series is all about inches – taking every inch you can get. I know you were trying to get aggressive to come onto pit road there. Take us through what happened.
“Yeah, that’s just it. I was just trying to push it as much as I could. He (Ryan Blaney) had a great car and I felt like if he was to come off pit road the leader, he was going to end up winning the race or beating me. I was just trying to maximize my pit-in, and honestly I felt like I was doing a really good job. I just didn’t anticipate him slowing down as much as he did. But on the replay, it looks like I just missed it by a lot. I need to look at data. I knew where the yellow line was and thought I was going to be under control getting there, and then yeah, he just slowed down – I locked the brakes up, slid to the right and clipped him and the barrels.
I’m pretty upset at myself, more than anything. Whether he got to pit road speed sooner than the yellow line or not, I could have just done a little bit better job judging it. I hope they are able to recover. I hope he can get a good finish or get a win and get the finish that he deserves.
Just a bummer, but we had a great No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevy today.”
We talked before the race about the fact that you’re already locked-in. You wanted to get this win here today. How frustrating was it? It seemed like you had a great car early on, but as the run went, I could tell the frustration. How much did your car drop off?
“There in the middle portion of the second stage, I was racing hard and got my tires hot. If not for that, we would have been able to keep stretching the lead out in the second stage. I just got loose for a few laps, and then I could never recover from it. I was just kind of hanging on there at the end of the second stage and gave him control of the race, and it kind of just led to this. Just have to do a little bit better job.”
Was there a point there where you were like – guys, I have to hit the barrels or else I’m going to run into him?
“Yeah, I mean honestly, I don’t really know what I was thinking during the initial part. I was trying to stay off him. As I knew I was going to probably hit him, I just locked the brakes up; I locked the fronts up and slid to the right and clipped the right-side of his rear bumper, and that kind of shot me even more right into the barrels.
Yeah, I don’t know – was in control in my car, I just didn’t anticipate him getting to pit road speed as early as he did.”
Do you feel like you had a winning car up to that point?
“Yeah – we won the first stage and we had a great No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevy in the second stage. Just ran hard for a few too many laps; got my right-rear hot and gave him the second stage. But other than that, we were good.”
AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Campers Inn RV Camaro ZL1
“Our No. 16 Campers Inn RV Chevy was really good. We started the race in the 25th position and drove right up into the top-10 there. The track was tricky – you got on one side of the race track and we fought tight through the middle-half of the race. Our crew chief made some really good adjustments there, and we got some more clean air and I was able to make some moves. I thought maybe we were one of the fastest cars there at the end, but overall, just a really solid day. It’s always great when you can get a top-five finish.”
How close to the front do you think you go.. do you think you could have had just a little bit more?
“Well don’t get me wrong, it entered my head what the four people in front of me were racing for, so I was never going to force the issue. I was going to take it if I had an opportunity. It was just a great day. We executed the best job on pit road all year. The guys did a great job, so I’m happy.”
How good were you at riding up high against the fence?
“I didn’t have to ride up against the fence. With this car around this place, you can find different lanes that work. It was a lot of fun.”
William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1
That last run there – you got up towards the front; kind of slipped back a little bit, but still finished up in the top-five. Take us through that last run.
“We just didn’t have the turn in our car to go into a run, so we just struggled there to fire-off. I was doing all I could to air-block; move my line around and try to take his air, but it just wasn’t enough. I couldn’t get through the middle well enough to maintain pace.
But our No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet was really solid all day. We just needed more there at the end, but we had good execution, good pit stops and put ourselves in position to win.”
Erik Jones, No. 43 Allegiant Camaro ZL1
“Just an OK, up-and-down, day for the No. 43 Allegiant Chevy team. We had some good runs and some bad runs, but overall, ended up with a decent day. We needed that. We’ve had some bad finishes; some weren’t necessarily all our fault; we were just in a bad spot. It’s nice to come home with an OK day, and hopefully go to Martinsville (Speedway) and get it a little bit better.”
· Coming off his win in the NASCAR Cup Series Round of Eight opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson and the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1 team led the field to the green-flag in the 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
· Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron took the green-flag from the seventh position and quickly went to work to climb the leaderboard – moving his No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1 into the top-five less than 10 laps into the race. Just after reporting to his team that his Camaro ZL1 was building tight, Byron made a pass on then-race leader Martin Truex Jr. – ultimately taking the lead on lap 20.
· The first round of green-flag pit stops got underway just shy of the halfway mark in Stage One. Continuing to pace the field, Crew Chief Rudy Fugle called Byron down pit road on lap 34 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment – returning to the track in the seventh position.
· As the field cycled through upon completion of green-flag pit stops, Team Chevy’s playoff contenders Larson and Byron continued to lead the Bowtie brigade in the second and third positions, respectively, with 30 laps remaining in Stage One.
· Larson quickly closed the gap on then-race leader Brad Keselowski to under a one-second margin. Despite reporting tight conditions on exit in his Camaro ZL1, Larson was able to make a pass for the lead and settle into the top position with 27 laps to go in the stage.
· Continuing to work his way through traffic, Larson built nearing a three-second lead when the first caution of the race came out with four laps to go in the stage. Unable to return to green-flag conditions before the end of the stage, Larson led the field to the completion of Stage One – marking his eighth stage win of the season.
· Team Chevy Stage One: Top-10
1st Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1
4th William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1
8th Austin Dillon, No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Camaro ZL1
· Under the stage break, Larson reported that the handling of his Camaro ZL1 was good while running the bottom and middle lines, but he was struggling with tight conditions as he moved closer to the wall. Looking to improve the handling conditions in the top lane, Crew Chief Cliff Daniels called Larson to pit road for four tires, fuel and a round of adjustments – maintaining the top position in the race off pit road to lead the field to the start of Stage Two.
· Larson was able to defend the lead at the drop of the green-flag, going on to build a nearly one-second lead when the race hit the 100-lap marker. Continuing to click-off laps running his Camaro ZL1 just inches off the wall, crew chief Daniels called Larson to pit road on lap 114 to start the next round of green-flag pit stops. Continuing to struggle with tight conditions against the wall, Daniels called for another round of adjustments on the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1. Getting back up to race pace, the benefit of four fresh tires proved dividends – clocking-in lap times nearly four mph faster than the leaders that had yet to make their scheduled stops.
· As the final lead-lap car came to pit road, Larson returned to command of the race – already building on his 4.5-second lead over second-place Keselowski with 35 laps to go in the stage.
· Racing hard in traffic during the closing laps of the stage, Larson’s pace started to fade, allowing Ryan Blaney and Byron to close the gap to the race leader. Both drivers were able to make the pass on the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1 with three laps remaining in Stage Two en route to the green-white checkered flag.
· Team Chevy Stage Two: Top-10
2nd William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1
3rd Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1
9th Austin Dillon, No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Camaro ZL1
FINAL STAGE / POST-RACE NOTES:
· Following back-to-back top-five stage results, Byron was looking for “longer rear longevity” at the end of the run. Fresh with feedback, crew chief Fugle called Byron to pit road during the stage break for four tires, fuel and both a chassis and air pressure adjustment. Choosing the bottom lane for the restart, Byron and the No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1 team led the field to the green-flag for the start of the final stage.
· Also pitting during the stage break, Larson chose fifth for the green-flag marking 94 laps to go in the race. With the start of the final stage underway, Larson slowly started to make gains on the leaders – moving into the runner-up position 20 laps into the stage.
· With another round of green-flag pit stops underway, Larson brought out a caution at lap 215 following an incident entering pit road. Damage sustained on his No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1 was deemed too much to repair – resulting the team to retire early from the race.
· With 39 laps to go, Byron was running in the second position in a three-wide battle for the lead when the caution flew. Crew chief Fugle called Byron down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment – with the No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1 pit crew getting the driver off pit road first for the restart.
· At the restart with 25 laps to go, Byron powered his Camaro ZL1 to the lead – pacing the field until the Christopher Bell made a pass around Byron for the lead, with the No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1 ultimately taking the checkered-flag in the fourth position.
Inside Track Communications PR