Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sunday, March 21 | 3 p.m. ET
FRONT RUNNER: Five races into his fourth NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron is off to the best start of his career. So far, the 23-year-old driver has spent 759 laps running inside the top 10 – the fifth-highest amount in the Cup field. Of those 759 laps, 317 were inside the top-five running order, which is the seventh-most by a driver at NASCAR’s highest level this season. Currently, Byron has led laps in two races and ranks third for most laps led by a driver this year with 127. Only Joey Logano (198) and Denny Hamlin (183) have led more laps. Byron has the eighth-best average running position of the 2021 season at 11.16.
TOP-10 TAKES: Having to overcome issues in the first two races of the season, Byron has turned things around and is now on a streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes. His run of top-10 results ranks the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet fourth for the most top 10s in 2021. In fact, the streak of three consecutive top 10s is tied for the longest of the Charlotte, North Carolina, native’s Cup career. It’s something he has done only two other times, both in 2020.
1.5-MILE MOMENTUM: With the Cup Series racing at two 1.5-mile tracks so far this year, Byron is one of four drivers who have finished inside the top 10 for both events.
THE ATL ARCHIVE: With three previous Cup Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Byron has a track-best finish of 17th from the 2019 spring race. Other than his three Cup Series appearances, Byron has two other NASCAR starts at the 1.5-mile track: One in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he finished seventh, and one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he was running second before losing an engine, leaving him with a 32nd-place finish.
BYRON ON HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO RACE IN ATLANTA: “Atlanta is just a tough track. It’s a little bit easier at this time of the year because it’s a bit cooler, but it’s not easy to run there ever by any means. You’re going to need to have a car that can do all the right things throughout the entire race. Luckily, I feel like this Sunday’s race will be similar to Homestead, and it gives us a good idea of what we need in our car. We can use past Atlanta notes and pair them with our Homestead notes from this year to, hopefully, continue this stretch of good runs we have going.”
RUDY RUNS THE ATL: While Sunday marks another track where crew chief Rudy Fugle will call the shots for the first time in the NASCAR Cup Series, the Livonia, New York, native is no stranger to success at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts as a crew chief, Fugle has two pole awards and two wins at the 1.5-mile track. In six events, his drivers have collected four top-three finishes and five top 10s. Fugle only has one finish worse than seventh, coming with Byron in 2016 when the duo was running second before suffering an engine failure.
FUGLE ON THE NO. 24 TEAM’S START TO 2021: “I’m proud of what this team has accomplished so far this year. While we started off with a couple of hard races, we still had small victories along the way. This group never got down and worked on righting the ship to put together good solid races. Phoenix last week was a good example of that. It was just a solid, mistake-free day all the way around. We need to continue to have more of those races and keep our foot on the gas.”
FUGLE TALKS ATLANTA: “Atlanta is a track that I have a lot of laps at. It’s a track that we use to test at with rookie drivers in the truck series, which has been the majority of my career. I feel like I have a really good idea of what we can expect the track to do, not only at this time of year, but also throughout the entirety of the race. With Atlanta having such an old, worn out surface, consistency will be key Sunday. We need to make sure not to abuse the tires early on and maintain track position at the same time. If you can manage the track and your tires throughout the run, you’ll pick up positions when other cars begin to struggle. We were able to do that at Homestead, so hopefully that carries over to this weekend’s race as well.”
PEACHY PERFORMANCE: Hendrick Motorsports will roll into Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race as the track’s all-time leader in wins (14), top-five finishes (59) and top 10s (92). The team has won with drivers Jeff Gordon (five victories), Jimmie Johnson (five), Kasey Kahne, Jerry Nadeau, Ken Schrader and Darrell Waltrip.
THREE IN A ROW: Hendrick Motorsports has won both races held at 1.5-mile tracks in 2021 – Homestead and Las Vegas – and will seek a third this weekend at Atlanta. The organization holds the NASCAR Cup Series record with 62 points victories on 1.5-mile tracks. Thirteen different drivers have won at least one event at a 1.5-mile venue for Hendrick Motorsports, including all four of its current drivers.
ATL RECORD: If Hendrick Motorsports locks in a win Sunday, the team will break a tie with Wood Brothers Racing for the most different drivers to win a Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Both organizations have sent six drivers to victory lane there, one more than Junior Johnson and Associates and two more than Bud Moore Engineering and Joe Gibbs Racing. All four current Hendrick Motorsports drivers are seeking their first career Atlanta win.
NUMBERS GAME: The four championship-winning car numbers fielded by Hendrick Motorsports have combined for 17 NASCAR Cup Series wins at Atlanta. The Nos. 24 and 48 Chevrolets have five wins apiece at the venue, all with Hendrick Motorsports. The No. 5 has two all-time Atlanta victories: one via Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne in 2014 and another courtesy of Bobby Johns, who won for car owner Cotton Owens in 1960. The No. 9 car has earned five Atlanta Motor Speedway trophies, but none to date with Hendrick Motorsports. Three of those wins were delivered by NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, father of current No. 9 driver and defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott.