Start: 7th (to the rear)
Despite being credited with a seventh-place starting position for the final race of the doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway, William Byron had to start at the rear of the field due to an engine change made in between Saturday’s and Sunday’s races. With weather playing a factor once again at the start, causing a short delay, the No. 24 Axalta team utilized pit strategy to be able to make up crucial track position throughout the race. With a long green-flag run to the end of the 140-lap event, Byron raced his way to the seventh position, making a last-lap pass to pick up two extra spots to score his best finish so far in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Forced to give up track position before the race went green due to an engine change from the previous race, Byron started from the tail end of the field when the race finally went green after a weather hold for lightning. Making up as much ground as possible early on, the third-year driver raced his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE up to the 19th position when the yellow flag came out for rain on Lap 5. After a brief delay for rain, the field went back green with Byron restarting 19th. With 22 laps until the first stage break, Byron broke into the top 15 and ultimately finished Stage 1 in the 14th position.
With track position a critical factor, crew chief Chad Knaus elected for Byron to remain on track under the stage break, lining him up seventh for the start of the second stage. However, on the restart Byron reported that his car wouldn’t turn going into the first corner, dropping him back to the 11th position as the caution was displayed again just one lap later. Changing their pit strategy, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native came down pit road under the yellow for four tires and fuel before rejoining the field in 30th for the restart. Once the field went back green, Byron once again began his march through the field, reaching the 12th position with 10 laps remaining in the stage as the caution flag was once again displayed. Liking the handling of his Axalta Chevy, Byron came down pit road for four tires and fuel. However, with two consecutive restarts setting up a two-lap dash to the stage end, Byron received the green-checkered flag in the 19th position.
Once again looking to make up track position, Byron did not pit under the stage break, moving up to the 15th position for the final stage. As a long green-flag run ensued, different pit strategies began to take place throughout the field, especially with sunset also playing a factor on when the race would end. Wanting to maximize the opportunity for track position, Knaus made the call for Byron to stay out as long as possible before coming down pit road. Hitting the 20 laps to go mark and the race continuing to go green, Knaus called the Axalta Chevy down pit road for fuel and two right-side tires. Rejoining the field in the 15th position, Byron turned his sights on marching back through the field. As the laps continued to wind down, Byron made a last-lap pass to finish seventh at the second race of the Pocono doubleheader. His seventh-place finish is his best result of the season so far, and his fifth top-10 finish in 15 races.
Chase Elliott brought home the highest finish for Hendrick Motorsports, crossing the line in the fourth position with Byron a handful of positions behind in seventh. Alex Bowman also scored a top-10 finish at Pocono Raceway, coming home in ninth. Jimmie Johnson unfortunately had a late-race pit road penalty that left him with a 16th-place finish.
William Byron: “We ended up with a top-10 finish today which was good. It was definitely an improvement from yesterday – seven spots better to be exact – which is good. We still struggled a good portion of the race but I think we made the right calls and adjustments at the end. We had a lot of speed actually the last couple runs. I think the track kind of came to us and ultimately that’s what we needed. So we’ll go on to Indy and hopefully have a better run there.”
Following Saturday’s race at Pocono Raceway, the No. 88 ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes team elected to go to a back-up car due to heavy damage. Alex Bowman started at the tail-end of the field in the 27th position on Sunday afternoon. Just two laps into the race, Bowman was in 33rd and two laps later the field saw the yellow flag for weather in the area. The Tucson, Arizona, native relayed to the team that his car was a little free.
After a red flag was shown for weather, Bowman was set to restart 27th when the field went green on Lap 12. The caution flag was shown just three laps after the field took the green and the team was in the 27th position. Crew chief Greg Ives called Bowman to pit road for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment after the driver was reporting his car was free. The 27-year-old driver restarted 31st on Lap 19.
At the conclusion of Stage 1, Bowman crossed the line 19th. Ives called Bowman back to pit road for four tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment, and a track-bar adjustment. The team was set to restart 28th when the field went green on Lap 36. The caution was shown, once again, on Lap 39 and Bowman had advanced to 23rd. Ives elected to keep the driver out on track and Bowman restarted 16th on Lap 45. Before the field was able to make a complete lap, the caution flag was shown for a spin right in front of Bowman while in the 15th position. The team once again remained on track and Bowman restarted 12th on Lap 51.
Bowman was inside the top 10 on Lap 67 in the eighth position. On Lap 76, the caution flag waved, and Bowman was eighth. Under the yellow, Bowman visited pit road for four tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment, and an air pressure adjustment. After receiving a penalty on the stop, Bowman restarted at the tail-end of the field in 17th. Once again, the field did not make a full lap before the caution flag was shown. The driver of the No. 88 was in the 19th position and remained on track under this yellow. After someone ahead of Bowman elected to pit, the team restarted 18th on Lap 84.
When Stage 2 concluded, Bowman finished 18th. Ives kept the team out on track following the stage and Bowman restarted 14th on Lap 89. With 40 laps to go in the 350-mile event, the No. 88 ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes team was scored in ninth. On Lap 107, Bowman made a scheduled green-flag pit stop for right-side tires and fuel. As the green-flag stops cycled through, the team was shown in 13th. Bowman continued to keep his eyes out front and with five laps to go, he was scored in ninth. As the white flag was shown, the team was in the eighth position and after a three-wide battle to the checkered flag Bowman finished ninth.
This is Bowman’s second top-10 finish at Pocono Raceway and Sunday’s finish is also his fifth top-10 finish this season.
Alex Bowman: “It was an up and down day. So many people are on different pit strategies throughout the day here in Pocono. We had a top-10 car all day, just didn’t have the running positions to show for it. Greg (Ives) and the guys made great adjustments on pit road and really improved the car throughout the race. A top-10 finish today is good momentum for us going to Indy next weekend.”