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      Axalta’s RaptorTough.com scheme ready to take on Kansas Speedway


      © 2021 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      Hollywood Casino 400
      Kansas Speedway
      Sunday, Oct. 24 | 3 p.m. ET

      LOOKIN’ AT THE TOP TWO: After his runner-up result at Texas last Sunday, Byron has now finished in the top-two positions four times in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. That feat ties him for the third-most in the field behind Hendrick Motorsports teammates Larson (14) and Chase Elliott (eight). This is also the most times in a season that the 23-year-old driver has finished in the top-two positions, doubling his previous best of two in 2019.

      CONTINUING THE TREND: Down to the last three races in the 2021 Cup Series season, Byron continues to post career-best stats this year at the highest level of competition in the No. 24 RAPTORTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. So far, Byron has collected one win (Homestead-Miami Speedway), two pole awards (Road America and Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – most by a driver this season), 11 top-five finishes and 18 top 10s all while leading 368 laps and collecting three stage wins. In his Cup career, these are the most top-five finishes, top 10s, laps led, and stage wins the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has collected in a single season.

      RAPTOR® TOUGH: Earlier this week, Axalta Racing unveiled a special paint scheme for the Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE featuring their newest acquisition, U-POL, and its RAPTOR® brand. The new paint scheme has a charcoal base with bright green accents and will be on board Byron’s Chevy this Sunday at Kansas as well as at the season finale at Phoenix. RAPTOR® is a durable protective coating and bed liner that is designed to tolerate the toughest climatic conditions and can be applied to a wide range of substrates from steel, wood, concrete and plaster to plastics and composites. Resistant to common fuels, U.V., scratches and stains, RAPTOR® is available at local paint distributors, auto parts stores and can also be purchased from online retailers. 

      1.5-MILE MOMENTUM: With the Cup Series racing at eight mile-and-a-half tracks so far this year, Byron has finished inside the top 10 in six of those events – tied for the second-most behind Kyle Busch (eight). Even going back as far as the last 12 races on 1.5-milers, Byron has secured eight top-10 finishes on that configuration of track.

      HOT START AT KANSAS: Right out of the gate Byron found success at Kansas Speedway in just his first two NASCAR national series starts at the 1.5-mile track. With one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start in 2016 and one NASCAR Xfinity Series start in 2017, Byron finished no worse than fourth in both events. In fact, in his debut at the intermediate oval in 2016 – just his fifth Truck Series start – Byron started from the top spot, led 34 laps and collected his first Truck Series win. That kickstarted the most successful season by a rookie in the history of the series.

      MIDWEST MOJO: Aside from those first two starts, Byron has seven Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway. While Byron faced bad luck in his first three races, including a mechanical failure, a late-race on-track incident and a pit road penalty, he has since turned that luck around. In his last four starts at the 1.5-mile track, Byron has collected one top-five finish and four top 10s. His four consecutive top-10 finishes at Kansas is tied for the longest active top-10 streak at the intermediate track. Byron has the longest top-10 streak in his Cup Series career at Kansas (four) ahead of Phoenix Raceway (three) and Pocono Raceway (three).

      THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE KANSAS: Looking to make his second start as a Cup Series crew chief at Kansas Speedway this Sunday, Rudy Fugle’s first race at the Midwestern track earlier this year resulted in a ninth-place effort with the No. 24 team. Aside from that one Cup Series start, the Livonia, New York, native has 10 previous starts at the 1.5-mile oval, all coming in the Truck Series. In those 10 events, Fugle’s drivers have started from the pole four times, led 391 laps, collected two wins (2016 and 2018), earned five top-five finishes and six top 10s. In fact, Fugle’s 2016 win came with Byron, who captured his first Truck Series victory in just their fifth start together.

      © 2021 Gavin Baker / NKP

      BYRON TALKS PAINT SCHEME: “I’m excited to have Raptor on the car this weekend for Kansas. It’s a company that Axalta is familiar with, and I think the paint scheme looks really cool.”

      BYRON ON KANSAS SPEEDWAY: “Something about that place clicked early on for me in Trucks and Xfinity. I struggled a bit there when I first got to Cup, but I think I’ve learned a lot over the years and it’s become one of my best tracks now.”

      FUGLE ON WHY KANSAS IS ONE OF HIS FAVORITE TRACKS: “Kansas is a really cool track. I like the progressive banking, the speed and the handling that comes with that track. I like when you have to have all the facets of the car together, and the crew chief has a major part to do with that. The first time we went there this year, we ran up front for most of the first stage and I just didn’t do a good job adjusting on it during the second stage, putting us back in traffic. We’ve made a lot of changes since then and our 550 horsepower package is way better since then. I’m just super, super excited to get there. It’s a track where drivers can go bottom, middle or top. Not only can we make a lot of adjustments as needed, but William can as well with his driving style because of that. It reminds me of Homestead at a young state before it aged and got really abrasive. If we can hit on everything we need to, we can definitely go win.”

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      ONE-TWO PUNCH: Kyle Larson and William Byron finished first and second Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, which delivered Hendrick Motorsports’ sixth 1-2 sweep of 2021 – the second-highest total since the NASCAR Cup Series went to a 36-race schedule in 2001. With seven in a single season, Hendrick Motorsports (2009) and Joe Gibbs Racing (2019) have the most sweeps of first and second in that span. The all-time record is 10 held by Carl Kiekhafer Racing, which accomplished it in 1956 during a 56-race Cup Series season. In 1957, Peter Depaolo Racing did it six times in 53 events.

      NIFTY 50: Following Larson’s Texas performance, Hendrick Motorsports has recorded 50 all-time wins during the Cup Series playoffs – 17 more than next-best Joe Gibbs Racing (33) and more than double third-place Penske Racing (24). In seven playoff events this year, the team has three victories – all courtesy of Larson.

      ONE MORE SHOT: Entering Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports is within striking distance of the Cup Series single-season record for most laps led on 1.5-mile tracks. In 2005, the five-car Roush Fenway Racing organization led 1,515 laps in 10 races held on intermediates. This year, the four-car Hendrick Motorsports stable has led 1,464 laps in eight events on 1.5-milers.

      2021 FOR THE AGES: Hendrick Motorsports is having one of its best statistical seasons since Rick Hendrick launched the team in 1984. Through 33 points-paying events in 2021, the organization has 14 points-paying Cup Series wins – its second-best mark in a 36-race season and tied with 1998, which featured a 33-race schedule. Its best full-season victory total came in 2007 when it won 18 of 36 points events (50%).

      BLACKJACK: Hendrick Motorsports has won 11 of the last 21 points-paying Cup Series races. Joe Gibbs Racing is the next-best team with four wins in that span.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports