Bank of America ROVAL 400
Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course
Sunday, Oct. 10 | 2 p.m. ET
‘GAME 7’ TIME: After being collected in an on-track incident Monday at Talladega Superspeedway just before rain cut the race short, William Byron is now sitting 11th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings, 44 points below the playoff cut line. With the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL as the last race of the Round of 12, this will be Byron and the No. 24 team’s last shot to move on to the next round of the playoffs if they can capture a win or enough points to overcome the current gap.
BEST YEAR YET: With five races left in the 2021 Cup Series season, Byron is continuing to have a career-best season 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 Indianapolis road course – most by a driver this season), 10 top-five finishes and 17 top 10s all while leading 283 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 23-year-old driver has posted in a single season.
ROAD COURSE RINGER?: With three previous starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, Byron is prepared for his fourth start at the 2.28-mile course. In his last three showings there, the 23-year-old driver had strong runs. While a flat tire derailed his race in 2018, Byron rebounded to capture the pole at the Charlotte road course in 2019, later racing to a sixth-place finish. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native doubled down in 2020, racing to another sixth-place result at the Charlotte ROVAL. In fact, Byron has led a total of 50 laps at his hometown road course – the third-most in the Cup Series field behind Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. Those 50 laps led by Byron are also the seventh-highest amount he has at a track in his Cup Series career.
FUGLE FIRST: This Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL will mark crew chief Rudy Fugle’s first start at the 2.28-mile road course. Already in 2021, Fugle and Byron have six road course starts together. However, the duo is looking to turn their luck around Sunday after suffering misfortune in the previous road course races this season despite running up front during several of those events. Aside from six road course starts in the Cup Series, Fugle has seven other road course races under his belt all coming in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In those seven starts, Fugle has one win (Erik Jones, 2015), three top-five finishes and five top 10s. One of those seven truck starts was also with Byron in 2016 when the duo raced to a 10th-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
BYRON TALKS ROVAL: “The ROVAL has always been tough ever since we started racing there. I feel like every year it becomes a little bit more normal for us and we’re able understand the race track a bit more and what to expect. The good thing is that I have the same amount of experience there as most of the field since it is a fairly new track. It’s difficult, though, because I feel like this is a race where there is always a lot more contact throughout the field and you can’t prepare for that other than to be ready for anything at any moment. We always have fast cars there, though, so we just need to go there and focus on getting the win. It’s going to be really difficult to worry about points, so a win is really all we’re worried about.”
FUGLE ON THE NO. 24 TEAM’S MINDSET: “I know I’ve said it before, but this weekend’s race at the ROVAL is no different for us than how we have prepared for earlier races. We’re just going to go there and execute the best race we can. While it’s technically doable to get into the next round on points, it’s going to be a bit harder than it was in Bristol. We’re really focused on converting the speed we have shown all year into a win and, hopefully, additional playoff points that we can use in the next round. Obviously though, things change once the race gets going, so if the situation changes we will adapt our strategy to match. On paper, our results at road courses aren’t where we want them, but I don’t think it accurately represents the speed we have had in those races, either. William has really become a great road course racer and we have a great road course package not only with the No. 24 team but with Hendrick Motorsports as a whole. Sunday’s race is a high-stress situation, but this team has overcome a lot this season, so I know we’re capable of advancing on if we execute.”
HOME TRACK MAGIC: Since its inception in 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has won two of the three NASCAR Cup Series races held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course known as the ROVAL. Overall, the team has 35 Cup-level wins at the CMS facility, including 21 points-paying victories on the 1.5-mile oval and 12 non-points wins – eight in the NASCAR All-Star Race and four in the All-Star Open. Based in Concord, North Carolina, Hendrick Motorsports is located less than 1 mile from the racetrack.
THRIVING UNDER PRESSURE: Hendrick Motorsports has won four consecutive Cup Series playoff elimination races dating back to last season. In 2020, Chase Elliott won the final three cutoff events – held at the ROVAL, Martinsville Speedway and Phoenix Raceway – en route to winning the Cup Series championship. This year, Kyle Larson won at Bristol Motor Speedway, which hosted the first elimination race of the 2021 playoffs.
THE ROAD AHEAD: The three drivers who have led the most laps at the Charlotte ROVAL all drive for Hendrick Motorsports: Elliott (62 laps led), Larson (52) and William Byron (50). While he has led just two ROVAL laps, teammate Alex Bowman has never finished outside the top 10 at the track and boasts a 4.7 average finish there, which trails only two-time winner Elliott (2.7).
TRUTH BOMB: Since 2018, Hendrick Motorsports has won nine of the 14 Cup Series points-paying events held on road courses, including eight of the last 10. This season, the team has won four of six road races, including three sweeps of the top-two finishing positions. Hendrick Motorsports holds the all-time NASCAR Cup Series records for road-course wins (24), different drivers with a road-course victory (seven) and road-course stage wins (11).