Axalta drivers Alex Bowman and William Byron are getting ready to shift gears for the start of the NASCAR Playoffs as the drivers prepare for the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Bowman is returning to the playoffs for the second straight season after his run to the Round of 12 last year, while Byron is making his first trip to the postseason.
Though he hasn’t experienced the NASCAR Playoffs yet, the driver of the No. 24 heads into the postseason on a strong run after tallying three top-five finishes and five top 10s in his last 10 races, including a fourth-place result in the regular-season finale.
“There’s no better way to go in than a top-five finish,” Byron said after the Brickyard 400. “That’s really good for our team. It kind of helps start our momentum and I hope we can carry that into next week.
“We’ve just got to take one race at a time, obviously, and do the best we can. If you put together one really good race in each round, you’re in a good position, I think, especially in the first couple of rounds. So, we’ve just got to put together one really good race or three really solid ones. There are a number of ways to do it. It just comes down to ultimately not making mistakes.”
Byron, who will be the third-youngest driver in series history to make his first playoff start, said the team isn’t going to switch up the process that helped them reach the postseason.
“I think this weekend’s race will be a good one for us,” he said. “This is the second time I’ll be going to Las Vegas Motor Speedway with (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and this group on the 24 team. We had an OK showing in the spring race for just our third race as a team and I definitely think we have improved since then as a group. We’ll just approach this weekend like it’s any other weekend, though. You don’t want to change anything up because that’s when mistakes happen. We had an almost flawless race last weekend at Indy, so if we can execute like that again for this race, it should be a good result.”
While Byron will make his first trip to the postseason, his teammate will look to use his experience to better his Round of 12 result from last season.
“I think consistency is the key improvement that we are going to need,” said Bowman, who locked up his postseason spot with his victory at Chicagoland. “We go to a lot of places that we are really strong at and there are a lot of good tracks for us in the playoffs. At the same time, we are hit-and-miss sometimes. We have a lot of work to do, I think, but the tracks that suit us can be very good. Starting at a place like Vegas, going back to Kansas and Dover, we are going to a lot of tracks that are good for us, so we should be really strong.”
In the last four races on 1.5-mile tracks, Bowman has one win (Chicagoland), one second-place finish (Kansas) and one seventh-place finish (Charlotte).
“We’ve just got to go out and perform and not have good days and then bad days, like we’ve had the last two weeks,” the No. 88 driver said. “I think our cars are going to be really strong and we can go out there and win some races. There are a lot of really good racetracks for us. The second round is extremely good for us. So, I’m looking forward to it.”