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      ‘We aren’t letting off the gas’: No. 24 team looks to make another statement at Martinsville

      © 2021 Gavin Baker / NKP

      Xfinity 500
      Martinsville Speedway
      Sunday, Oct. 31 | 2 p.m. ET

      CONTINUING THE TREND: Down to the last two races in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron continues to post career-best stats this year at the highest level of competition in the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. So far, Byron has collected one win (Homestead-Miami Speedway), two pole awards (Road America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – most by a driver this season), four top-two finishes, 11 top-five finishes and 19 top 10s all while leading 425 laps and collecting three stage wins. In his Cup career, these are the most top-two finishes, top fives, top 10s, laps led and stage wins the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has earned in a single season.

      MARTINSVILLE MINUTES: Despite his young age, Byron’s time at Martinsville Speedway goes back to when he attended his first Cup Series race at the paperclip-shaped track in 2006 as a fan. Since then, the 23-year-old driver has moved through the NASCAR ranks and is now poised to make his 10th overall start at the half-mile track, his eighth in the Cup Series. Of those seven Cup Series starts at the 0.526-mile venue, Byron has a track-best finish of second in the fall of 2019 where he came within car lengths of scoring the win. Aside from his Cup Series starts, he has two other Martinsville starts from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016, where he qualified seventh for both events and raced to one top-five finish and two top 10s.

      THE FUGLE FILES: This Sunday’s race will mark crew chief Rudy Fugle’s second trip to Martinsville Speedway in the Cup Series. Earlier this season, Fugle and the No. 24 team started third at the Virginia-based track and raced to a fourth-place result. Aside from that Cup start, the Livonia, New York, native has 14 starts at the paperclip-shaped track already under his belt, all in the Truck Series. In those 14 races, Fugle accumulated one win (May 2019), six top-five finishes and 12 top 10s. Two of those previous starts were with Byron, both in 2016, where the duo started seventh in both races and raced to a third-place result in the spring and an eighth-place finish in the fall.

      BYRON TALKS MARTINSVILLE: “I look forward to going to Martinsville this weekend. Ever since the second half of the 2019 season, I’ve looked forward to racing there even more. I feel like I’ve really found a good balance when going there now. It’s a fun track but it is always a challenge to race at, no matter how many times you have. You want to make the best lap times every lap because it’s so easy to get behind early and even harder to make up lost time. At the same time, you have to manage your brakes so they last the whole race. 500 laps around Martinsville are always tough. It’s about surviving and being there at the end.”

      FUGLE ON KEEPING MOMENTUM: “We may not be in the playoffs anymore but I think the 24 team is still making a statement each and every week. That’s what we want to accomplish. We aren’t letting off the gas or waiting around for next season to start. Preparation for next season has already begun and we don’t want to lose the momentum that we have worked so hard to gain. I think this weekend at Martinsville will be another weekend where we can show how much we have elevated this team throughout the season. When we went there in the spring we had a good, solid race overall. This time, we’re looking to improve on that. William has really hit his stride at Martinsville the last couple years, and we have such great notes already from our teammates. This is a long, grueling race but as long as we take care of our car, we will have a shot at a win in the end. I’m confident in that.”

      © 2021 Nigel Kinrade / NKP

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

      TICK-TOCK STARS: Hendrick Motorsports has 25 points-paying wins at Martinsville Speedway, which are the most victories by any team at any track in NASCAR Cup Series history. In addition to its 25 iconic grandfather clock trophies, the organization holds the Martinsville records for pole positions (17), top-five finishes (85), top 10s (136) and laps led (9,607). A track record six different Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won there.

      WINS-VILLE: Hendrick Motorsports has won 11 Cup Series playoff races at Martinsville. With four post-season victories at the half-mile venue, Joe Gibbs Racing is the only other team with more than one playoff win there.

      SHORT-TRACK SUCCESS: With 53 all-time wins on short tracks, Hendrick Motorsports leads all active Cup Series teams. It has 10 more than next-best JGR (43) and 20 more than third-place Team Penske (33). A total of 13 different drivers have won at least one short-track race for Hendrick Motorsports.

      THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PILLOW: Dating back to 2020, Hendrick Motorsports has won five consecutive Cup Series playoff elimination races. It has won 10 of 30 playoff elimination events overall and at least one elimination race in each of the last four seasons.

      BANNER YEAR: Including Kyle Larson’s performance Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports now has 15 Cup Series points-paying victories in 2021, which represents its second-best single-season win total since Rick Hendrick founded the organization in 1984. In 2007, Hendrick Motorsports posted a team record 18 points wins and earned 14 combined victories in 1998.

      TWOFER: With 15 victories and 16 second-place results, Hendrick Motorsports has posted 31 top-two finishes during the 2021 Cup Series season – one away from tying the modern-era record for a team. From 1972 through 2021, the mark for top-two finishes in a single season is 32 by Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019. In that span, Hendrick Motorsports’ 29 in 2009 ranks third and its 27 in 2007 is fourth.

      PLAYOFF PERFORMANCE: At Kansas, Hendrick Motorsports recorded its 51st all-time win during the Cup Series playoffs – 18 more than next-best JGR (33) and more than double third-place Penske Racing (24). In eight playoff events this year, the team has four victories – all courtesy of Larson. Dating back to last season, Hendrick Motorsports has won seven of the last 13 playoff races.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports