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      William Byron wraps up Michigan weekend with another top-15 finish

      © 2020 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      WILLIAM BYRON

      Start: 7th
      Finish: 12th
      Playoff Standings: 16th (+26 from cutloff)

      Slated to start seventh after the inversion of Saturday’s race results at Michigan International Speedway, William Byron was able to start on the front row for Sunday’s race with those in front of him having to start at the tail of the field. Scoring valuable stage points early on, Byron had to fight the handling of his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE throughout the majority of the 156-lap race before crossing the finish line in the 12th position.

      Starting Sunday’s race from the front row, Byron ran solidly within the top-five running order for the majority of Stage One. Fighting a tight No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE as the run went on, the third-year Cup Series driver held on to finish the stage in the sixth position, scoring stage points at the break. Coming down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, the Axalta team continued where they left off yesterday, clicking off another fast pit stop and picking up two positions.

      Electing to choose the low lane to start on the front row for the start of Stage Two, Byron was unable to take the lead, but slid up into the high lane in the fourth position. As the run went on, Byron radioed that he felt like he might have a tire going down. Staying on track to get a better feel for the issue, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native relayed that his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was extremely loose which caused the flat tire sensation. Battling the handling of his car for the rest of the stage, Byron held on to cross the line in the 17th position for Stage Two. Crew chief Chad Knaus called the No. 24 down pit road under the stage break for four tires, fuel and both an air pressure and chassis adjustment to hopefully aid in the Axalta Chevy’s handling.

      Once again choosing the bottom lane to try gain track position, Byron restarted 13th for the start of the final stage but slid back to 18th after not finding an opening in high line. With the yellow coming out soon after, Byron raced his way to up to 14th before the caution was displayed once again, this time on Lap 105. Barely avoiding the spin in front of him that caused the yellow but sliding the tires in the process, Byron came down pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. Choosing the top lane before going back green, the 22-year-old restarted 18th but quickly began picking up track position. Showing long run speed, Byron raced his way to the ninth position just as caution came out setting up another restart with 14 laps remaining. Wanting to utilize the high line for the final restart, Byron restarted in the 14th position but was knocking on the door of the top 10 with five laps to go. In a tight three-car battle coming to the checkered flag, Byron ultimately crossed the finish line scoring a 12th-place finish.

      Chase Elliott was the first of the Hendrick Motorsports cars to cross the finish line, with a ninth-place run. Jimmie Johnson edged out Byron for the 11th position with the driver of the No. 24 crossing the stripe in 12th. Alex Bowman suffered damage late in the race, relinquishing him to a 36th-place finish.

      William Byron: “Hard fought day for us at Michigan today and this weekend overall really. After this weekend we came out of Michigan with a bit larger of a points gap than we started which is good. Hopefully we can go on to the road course at Daytona and keep building that point buffer. I think we’re really good at road courses so hopefully we can run well there despite it being an unknown. I’m looking forward to it though and the challenge it will bring. I will definitely be doing a lot of iRacing this week to get ready for it.”

      NKP/Jim Fluharty

      ALEX BOWMAN

      Start: 21st
      Finish: 35th

      Following Saturday’s event at Michigan International Speedway, Alex Bowman and the ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes team were set to start 21st on Sunday. On Lap 10, Bowman was scored in the 24th position and was quiet on the radio. Just 10 laps later, the 27-year-old driver radioed to crew chief Greg Ives that his car was too free. On Lap 25, Bowman reported that his car was snug in the center of Turns 3 and 4, but pretty good in Turns 1 and 2.

      With eight laps to go in Stage One, Bowman was in the 18th position. The ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes driver would advance three positions to finish the stage 15th. Under the yellow, Ives called the driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. After a quick stop, the team gained one position on pit road and Bowman restarted 14th on Lap 48. The team remained inside the top-15 on Lap 55 and five laps later the driver reported that the right rear of the Chevrolet was out of the track. With seven laps to go in the stage, Bowman was back in 16th and relaying that he had burnt up the front tires by racing the cars in front of him.

      As Stage Two came to a close, Bowman was scored in the 15th position. Ives called the driver to pit road for four tires, fuel, and a small adjustment. On the restart, the driver elected to take the bottom lane in the 13th position. On Lap 93, the driver entered the top 10. The caution flag was shown on Lap 96 and Bowman was running 12th. The Tucson, Arizona, native reported that he received some right front damage from the incident on track. Ives called the driver to pit road for four tires, fuel, a track-bar adjustment, and some damage repairs to the right side. Bowman restarted 28th on Lap 101.

      The yellow flag waved on Lap 105 and Bowman was scored in the 24th position. Knowing that the race could turn into a fuel mileage event, Ives elected to bring the driver to pit road for fuel only under the yellow. Bowman restarted 14th on Lap 110 but following an eventful restart the driver was in 25th just one lap later. With 30 laps remaining, Bowman was running 21st and was quiet on the radio. On Lap 135, Bowman radioed to the team that he believed he had a tire going down. As the tire let go at the entrance to pit road, Ives made the call for four tires, fuel, and multiple adjustments on the stop. The team elected to make a second stop on pit road for additional repairs and was set to restart 29th with 15 laps to go in the 156-lap event.

      After seeing heavy tire smoke coming from the right side with five to go, Ives called the driver down pit road for right side tires. Bowman ultimately crossed the line 35th at the conclusion of the event.

      Alex Bowman: “That was not what we wanted or needed today. It was just unfortunate events. Greg (Ives) and the guys made great adjustments from yesterday and got the car pretty good. We battled some snug conditions, but the team made great adjustments on pit road. Obviously not the way we wanted to end the double header weekend. We will learn from this and move on to next week.”

      Via Hendrick Motorsports