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      William Byron, Rudy Fugle aiming to recreate previous success at Homestead

      © 2021 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      HEADING TO HOMESTEAD: With three previous NASCAR Cup Series starts under his belt at Homestead-Miami Speedway, William Byron’s results at the 1.5-mile track are a bit misleading. In his first two races, Byron ran solidly within the top 10 but a flat tire in 2018 and a mechanical issue late in the 2019 event left him with a track-best finish of 24th (2018). However, Byron’s luck changed in 2020 when he scored a ninth-place finish after running inside the top 10 for the majority of the race. In fact, last year’s event was the fifth-best overall race for Byron based on average running position (9.66). He will try to keep that momentum going Sunday when the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE hits the track.

      RUDY RUNS MIAMI: While this Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be crew chief Rudy Fugle’s first in the NASCAR Cup Series, his previous stats show he has what it takes to tackle the 1.5-mile track. In seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at the south Florida track, Fugle has visited victory lane two times – first with Kyle Busch in 2013 and again with Byron in 2016. In fact, Fugle’s drivers have never finished outside the top eight there. Along with his two wins, Fugle has collected five top-five finishes and seven top 10s at the truck level. He has an average starting position of 5.7 and average finish of 3.4 with 180 laps led.

      SOUTH FLORIDA SUCCESS: In addition to his Cup Series starts, Byron has two other races on his Homestead-Miami Speedway résumé – one in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and one in the Camping World Truck Series. In 2017, Byron started sixth and went on to finish third, locking up the Xfinity Series championship in the process. In 2016, Byron started on the pole for the truck race and led 31 laps en route to the win at the 1.5-mile speedway with Fugle on the pit box.

      BYRON ON RACING AT HOMESTEAD: “Last year, we got our first taste of running Homestead in the summer versus the season finale like it used to be. The heat was more extreme, but you could still run right against the wall like before. Last year’s race was definitely one of our most consistent races of the year as a team. It was a good feeling to be able to run well there and have the finish to show for it. Hopefully we can do that again this weekend and get momentum building on our side for the start of the season.”

      RUDY FUGLE ON HIS HOMESTEAD SUCCESS: “Homestead is a track I always like going to. It used to signal the end of the season and you wanted to go there in contention for a championship. Last year was the first time that it was moved from the fall to the summer, and now it’s even earlier in the schedule. I feel like it changes the dynamic of the race some, but you still go there and give 100 percent. The first two races of this season haven’t ended with the results we have wanted as a team, but with Homestead being the next race, I’m optimistic. I think with my knowledge of that track and the knowledge William has gained, we will have the tools we need to leave there with a good result.”

      © 2021 John K Harrelson / NKP

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      HOME(STEAD) TEAM: The Chevrolet fleet of Hendrick Motorsports has rattled off 19 consecutive Homestead-Miami Speedway races with at least one top-10 finish. Since the NASCAR Cup Series began competing at Homestead in 1999, the team has notched at least one top 10 there in every season with the exception of 2001 when Labonte led the stable with an 11th-place result.

      SIXTY AND COUNTING: Going into Sunday’s race at Homestead, Hendrick Motorsports has scored 60 combined points-paying wins at 1.5-mile tracks, making it the all-time NASCAR Cup Series leader. The team has seven more 1.5-mile victories than second-place Joe Gibbs Racing and 19 more than third-place Roush Fenway Racing.

      WINNER, WINNER: Hendrick Motorsports has sent 11 different drivers to victory lane at 1.5-mile Cup Series tracks. Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was dominant on 1.5-milers, winning 28 points races, followed by four-time champ Jeff Gordon with an impressive 17 victories. The team’s list includes Darrell Waltrip (three wins), Chase Elliott (two), Ken Schrader (two), Kahne (two), Labonte (two), Alex Bowman, Jerry Nadeau, Martin and Mears.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports