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      William Byron holds on to playoff positioning with 11th-place finish at ‘Magic Mile’

      © 2020 Nigel Kinrade / NKP

      WILLIAM BYRON

      Start: 16th
      Finish: 11th
      Playoff Standings: 16th (+15 above Playoff cutline)

      Rolling off 15th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, William Byron worked his way inside the top-five running order just past the half point in Sunday afternoon’s race, running as high as the third position. However, with the final 82 laps going green at the one-mile oval, the handling on Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE swung from the loose to the tight side, hindering his forward progress late in the going, but he was able to hold on to a 11th-place finish at the “Magic Mile.”

      © 2020 Nigel Kinrade / NKP

      Starting from the 16th position Sunday, Byron fought a tight Liberty University Chevy early on, that needed to be able to turn better in the center of the corners. With the competition caution coming out on Lap 30, the 22-year-old driver was able to come down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Restarting 24th after varying pit strategy, Byron methodically began working his way through the field, gaining 15 positions before the caution was displayed on Lap 63. Crew chief Chad Knaus elected for the No. 24 team not to pit under the yellow to pick up track position. Restarting second with eight laps left in the stage, Byron unfortunately was not able to hold off those with fresher tires, finishing Stage 1 in the 12th position. Still wanting more turn in the center of the corner, Byron came down pit road under the stage break for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to the Liberty University Chevy.

      Restarting 23rd after the varying pit strategy, Byron once again was on the move back through the field, but the caution came out on Lap 94 for rain, slowing his progress in 18th. With the rain moving through quickly, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native came down pit road under the yellow for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Lining up 15th, Byron picked up where he left off, marching his way inside the top-five running order with 27 laps remaining in the second stage. However, the yellow flag came out on Lap 171, allowing Byron to come down pit road for four tires and fuel for the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Restarting fifth, Byron maintained his position through one more restart, crossing the stripe for the stage end, capturing valuable stage points. Wanting to save tires for the end of the race, Knaus kept his driver on track under the stage break, putting him fifth for the start of the final stage.

      Getting a great restart when the field went back green on Lap 192, Byron raced his way to the third position as the caution flag was displayed just four laps later. Still not within their pit window, Byron remained on track, restarting third and maintained that position until the caution was displayed once again, this time on Lap 204. Close to making it to the end of the race on fuel, Knaus called the No. 24 down pit road for four tires and fuel. With a mixed bag of strategy at the front of the field, Byron restarted ninth. However, as the race continued to run green, the handling of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, which began on the loose side for the run, swung to the tight side and hindered Byron’s forward momentum. As the race continued under green, Byron was in a tight four-way battle for the ninth position as the laps wound down before crossing the finish line for an 11th-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

      All four Hendrick Motorsports cars finished within the top 15 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with Chase Elliott crossing the finish line first of the four cars, in the ninth position. Byron scored an 11th-place finish with Jimmie Johnson right behind him in 12th. Alex Bowman rounded out the four-car contingent in the 15th position.

      William Byron: “That was a hard fought one for us today. We worked hard throughout the race to get the handling right and in the middle stage of the race we were pretty good. We were able to drive up to third and I was happy with that. After that though the car just stopped turning and the handling went away towards the end. It was a typical New Hampshire race in the things you fight here handling-wise, which is good and bad, but we’ll take the solid finish and head to the Michigan doubleheader and have two really good races there.”


      ALEX BOWMAN

      Start: 8th
      Finish: 15th
      Playoff Standings: 11th

      Alex Bowman and the No. 88 ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes team rolled off eighth on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. When the first caution was shown on Lap 17, Bowman radioed to his team that his car was chattering the right front as soon as he would turn the wheel. Crew chief Greg Ives called the driver to pit road from the 10th position for four tires and a wedge adjustment. Bowman restarted 18th on Lap 21. The driver maintained his position until the competition caution was shown on Lap 30.

      © 2020 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      Ives elected to keep Bowman out on track under the yellow and the team restarted 13th on Lap 35. Just three laps following the restart, the No. 88 machine was running 17th and by Lap 61 was 22nd when the caution was shown. Bowman reported that his car was tight center and snapping the right rear on exit. Under the yellow, Ives called the team to pit road for four tires, fuel, a track-bar adjustment and a packer adjustment. Bowman restarted 29th on Lap 68. At the conclusion of Stage 1, the ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes team crossed the line 27th.

      The team remained on track following the stage and Bowman restarted 18th for the start of Stage 2. Shortly after the field took the green flag, the caution was shown on Lap 91 for weather in the area. Under the yellow, Ives brought Bowman to pit road for four tires and fuel. In order to help the car’s handling, the team also made a track-bar and wedge adjustment. On Lap 101, Bowman restarted 24th and was up to the 18th position by Lap 130. The Tucson, Arizona, native reported that his car had a lot of rear chatter for the first 20-25 laps and that he was loose in and off the corners on Lap 145.

      When the caution was shown on Lap 171, Bowman was scored in the 13th position. Knowing that fuel mileage could play a factor in the event, Ives called the team to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The 27-year-old restarted 11th on Lap 176 and would maintain that position through the end of the second stage to finish 11th. Remaining on track following the stage end, Bowman restarted 11th on Lap 192. The 10th caution of the afternoon was shown on Lap 203 and Bowman was scored in the 13th position. He was reporting to Ives that his car was really tight and that he lost his front turn. Ives elected to bring the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Bowman restarted 17th on Lap 208.

      With 80 laps to go in the 301-lap event, Bowman was running 14th and was quiet on the radio. Continuing to battle ill-handling conditions, the team was in the 19th position with 45 laps remaining. Through the final green-flag run, Bowman wound up advancing to finish the event in 15th.

      Alex Bowman: “We had an up and down day today. We started off chattering the tires, which made the car difficult to drive. Greg (Ives) and the guys made some big changes on the stops and got our Chevrolet a little better. A big thanks to my team and everyone back at the shop for their hard work every week. We will move on to Michigan for the double header next week.”

      Via Hendrick Motorsports