William Byron will be looking for his third straight front-row start when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes on Richmond Raceway this weekend.
The 21-year-old has started on the front row three times in 2019, each coming as part of a Hendrick Motorsports sweep. Byron combined with Alex Bowman for a front-row lockout at Daytona before achieving the feat in the two most recent races — at Texas with Jimmie Johnson and at Bristol with Chase Elliott.
Hendrick Motorsports is the only team to pull off a front-row sweep this season and is also the only organization to have all four drivers start in the front row in 2019.
The Hendrick team will be looking for its 10th win at Richmond, while both Bowman and Byron will be aiming to improve on Cup-best finishes of 12th at the track.
“I am not sure that it matters much if the race is at night versus during the day at Richmond,” Bowman said. “The track gets really slick and widens out whether it’s during the day or night. Either way, Richmond is a fun track and I think the improvements that they are doing at the track are really cool.”
RACE INFO: Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway | 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 13
FRONT ROW FEAT: After collecting his first career NASCAR Cup Series pole for the Daytona 500 this year, William Byron has followed up that effort by qualifying on the front row two additional times. In consecutive weekends, the 21-year-old driver has qualified the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on the outside pole, marking track-best starting efforts at both Texas Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway. Byron has now been a part of all three Hendrick Motorsports front-row sweeps in qualifying this season and his three front-row starts are the highest among the Cup field in 2019.
RETURN TO RICHMOND: Set to make his third Cup Series start at Richmond Raceway this weekend, Saturday will mark Byron’s sixth national series start at the 0.75-mile oval. Last season, Byron had one of his best races during the spring Richmond race, qualifying ninth and running within the top five most of Stage 1 and within the top 10 for over half of the event before ultimately finishing just outside the top 10 in the 12th position. Aside from his two Cup Series starts at the track, Byron has made two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Richmond, both in 2017, earning a best starting position of sixth and finish of seventh in the fall. He also has one other start under his belt at Richmond Raceway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2015, winning the pole and finishing sixth.
BYRON ON RICHMOND: “Richmond is a very slick track. I think that will still be the case even with a different downforce level from the new package we’re running. It’s just very slick overall. It doesn’t seem to really pick up that much grip, even at night as the race goes on, it doesn’t seem to pick up much. It’s just a very abrasive track that is just hard to get around.”
KNAUS’ KNACK: Continuing to make gains with Byron and the No. 24 team, crew chief Chad Knaus will return to Richmond Raceway to call the shots on top of the pit box for the 38th time in his career. With three previous wins at the short track, Knaus leads all active crew chiefs for most wins at Richmond. He also has collected two pole awards, seven top-five finishes and 15 top-10s at the 0.75-mile oval.
BOWMAN IN VIRGINIA: Bowman will make his seventh start in the NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond Raceway this Saturday night. Last spring, the No. 88 Nationwide team finished 18th after starting just outside the top 10 in 11th. Bowman brought home a 12th-place finish after earning two top-10 finishes in the stages during the 400-lap event in the fall. The 25-year-old driver has completed 99 percent of the total laps run over his six starts at the 0.75-mile Virginia-based track. Bowman has three previous starts at Richmond in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he has an average start of 6.7 and an average finish of 17.0. In 2016, the driver started in the outside pole position in the fall event and finished ninth. Back in 2011, the Tucson, Arizona, native started fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Richmond and finished fifth.
IVES AT RICHMOND: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the eighth time for the No. 88 team in Richmond this weekend. The Michigan native has one top-five finish at the track, with a fifth-place result coming in 2015 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ives’ drivers have an average finish of 15.4 and an average starting position of 16.9 at the Virginia-based track. Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 team at Hendrick Motorsports from 2006 until 2012. During that time, he was a part of three wins, one pole award and seven top-10 finishes at Richmond.
BOWMAN ON THE UPCOMING OFF WEEK: “It is going to be nice having a weekend off and everyone being able to reset. These 88 guys have been working day in and day out since before Daytona and I know are going to enjoy the weekend with their families for the Easter holiday. We will be working throughout the week on our Talladega car and strategy and be ready for the race the following weekend.”
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT RICHMOND: At Richmond Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, 17 pole positions, 59 top-five finishes and 109 top-10s – the organization’s third-most top 10s at a single track. Jimmie Johnson earned the three most recent wins for the organization at Richmond: a sweep in 2007 and another trip to Victory Lane in 2008. Since then, the organization has earned six runner-up results at the 0.75-mile oval, bringing its total to 19 second-place finishes at Richmond – the team’s most at any track.
QUALIFYING MOMENTUM: Hendrick Motorsports has swept the front row in Richmond qualifying five times. This season, there have been three front-row sweeps in qualifying, all of which have been earned by Hendrick Motorsports. The organization has achieved the feat in each of the last two races (Texas, Bristol) in addition to a historic one-two-three-four qualifying effort in the Daytona 500.
RUNNING UP FRONT: Hendrick Motorsports is the only organization to have all four drivers start on the front row in the 2019 season. Byron has three front-row starts, Elliott has two, and Johnson and Bowman have one apiece. Hendrick Motorsports currently holds the record for most pole awards in 2019 with three. The average start for the organization this season leads all teams at 11.7.