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      Alex Bowman and William Byron maintain playoff position after Bristol

      © 2019 Logan Whitton / NKP

      ALEX BOWMAN

      Start: 10th
      Finish: 15th
      Standings: 10th

      Alex Bowman and the No. 88 Nationwide team qualified 10th for the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. Just 22 laps into the 500-lap event, Bowman was quiet on the radio and running 12th. By Lap 27, the Nationwide driver reported that his Chevrolet was loose and snappy off the corner. When the first caution was shown on Lap 79, the team was scored in the 15th position. Crew chief Greg Ives called Bowman to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment under the yellow. When the team took the green flag on Lap 87, Bowman was scored in 18th.

      By Lap 118, the 26-year-old driver reported that his Camaro ZL1 was a little tight in the center, but that the previous adjustments helped his entry. At the conclusion of Stage 1, the team was scored in 16th and Ives radioed to Bowman that the team would be making an air pressure adjustment on the next stop to help the driver’s center handling. When pit road was open, the No. 88 machine visited pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment and Bowman was set to restart 17th.

      While battling lap traffic on Lap 156, Bowman was scored in the 18th position and was quiet on the radio. With 75 laps to go in the stage, the Tucson, Arizona, native reported that his car was a little free off of the corner. Through a series of two additional caution flags, Bowman was calling to Ives that his machine was lacking rear grip. With 10 laps to go in Stage 2, the driver was scored in 16th. On Lap 242 the caution flag was shown and just a few laps prior, the No. 88 Chevrolet made contact with the outside wall causing some right-side damage. The team visited pit road under the caution for four tires, fuel, a track-bar adjustment and some right-side damage repair. Bowman was set to take the green flag on Lap 248 from the 18th position. The driver would advance two positions by the end of the stage to cross the line 16th.

      Ives made the call to keep Bowman on track following the stage and the team was lined up 11th at the start of the final stage. On Lap 288, the team was scored in the 16th position and the driver was relaying that his car was extremely loose. On the next green flag run, Bowman remained quiet on the radio and focused on getting through lap traffic. The caution was shown on Lap 362 and the No. 88 team was unfortunately involved. The left front tire went down on the No. 88 machine, which caused left side damage. The team came down pit road and changed left-side tires first and began repairing the damage. In an attempt to not go multiple laps down, the team left pit road and then made a second stop to continue repairs.

      When the field took the green flag on Lap 370, Bowman was scored in the 20th position and one lap down. Two laps after taking the green, the field saw the caution flag once again. The team remained on track under the yellow flag conditions. With 100 laps to go in the 500-lap event, Bowman was scored in the 16th position. On Lap 415, the driver came over the radio to Ives to relay that his car was extremely loose while maintaining his 16th running position. The driver would advance one position to finish the event in the 15th running spot. Bowman remains 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, now 257 markers behind the leader.

      The series has an off weekend this week and will return to the track on September 1st at Darlington Raceway.

      Alex Bowman: “Definitely not our night. Getting into the wall with the right side early on didn’t help. It was one thing after another tonight. We will take this off week to go back to the books and come back strong in Darlington.”

      © 2019 Logan Whitton / NKP

      WILLIAM BYRON

      Start: 21st
      Finish: 21st
      Standing: 12th

      Returning to Bristol Motor Speedway for the second time in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron fought the handling of his No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 from the start of the weekend, qualifying 21st during Friday’s single-car qualifying session. Able to work his way through the field once the sun began to set during Saturday night’s race, Byron found himself in contention for a top-10 finish until a late-race incident that required repairs left him with a 21st-place finish at the “Last Great Colosseum.”

      Fighting a “wrecking loose” Liberty University Chevy during Friday’s qualifying session, Byron secured the 21st starting spot for the Saturday night race under the lights. When the field got the green flag for the 500-lap event, the sophomore driver continued to fight a loose race car, but as the run continued, the handling began to swing in the right direction. Happier with the handling of the No. 24, Byron made his way up to the 16th position just as the first caution was displayed on Lap 81. Coming to pit road under the yellow, crew chief Chad Knaus made the call for four tires, fuel and a minor air pressure adjustment to help aid in a slightly loose Liberty University Chevy. Restarting 15th on Lap 88, Byron was able to pick a couple more positions before the stage end, collecting the green-checkered flag from the 12th position. Not liking the last adjustment made, Byron once again came to pit road, this time under the stage break, for four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments.

      Lining up 12th for the start of Stage 2, Byron tried to make up ground but was fighting a No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that was just way too loose. When the caution came out 57 laps later, Byron elected to come back down pit road for another four-tire stop and further adjustments. Rejoining the field in the 12th position, the Charlotte, North Carolina, driver maintained his position until the caution was once again displayed, this time on Lap 244. Setting up a two-lap dash to the end of Stage 2, Knaus elected to keep the No. 24 on track under the caution allowing Byron to restart from the third position. Trying to battle in the closing laps from the bottom lane, Byron ultimately was able to score valuable stage points with a fifth-place finish in Stage 2. Coming down pit road under the stage break, the Liberty University crew went to work with a routine four-tire stop with minor adjustments.

      With the varying pit strategy, Byron lined up 18th for the start of the final stage just past the halfway mark in Saturday night’s race. Trying to make up ground while fighting through heavy traffic, Byron ultimately went a lap down to the leaders on Lap 358 despite his best efforts to keep them at bay. However, just four laps later, teammate Alex Bowman blew a left front tire, leaving Byron with little time to react. Reporting that he had minor damage to the front nose of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 after the incident, Byron brought his car down pit road for four tires, fuel and to pull some tape off the grille, hoping for a quick caution to get his lap back. Restarting 14th, the first car one lap down, when the field went back green on Lap 374, Byron fought to maintain his position but unfortunately was not the beneficiary of the free pass when the caution came out just four laps later. Under the yellow, Byron reported that his temperatures were rising and Knaus elected to bring him down pit road for damage repairs from the previous incident. Requiring multiple trips down pit road, Byron ultimately rejoined the field in the 25th position, two laps down, with 113 laps remaining. While temperatures under the hood began to drop, unfortunately the handling of Byron’s Liberty University Chevy was on the tight side for the ensuing green flag run. As the laps continued to click off, Byron was able to improve his position, crossing the finish line in the 21st position.

      Chase Elliott led the Hendrick Motorsports brigade to the finish line with his fifth-place result with Bowman crossing the stripe in 15th. Jimmie Johnson rallied to a 19th-place finish after an on-track incident early in the race, followed by Byron in 21st.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports