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      Hendrick Motorsports captures back-to-back titles as William Byron finishes 17th in finale

      © 2021 Nigel Kinrade / NKP

      Start: 3rd
      Finish: 17th

      With qualifying Saturday afternoon, William Byron secured a third-place starting position for Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway in the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Running within the top five by the time the caution came out on lap 16, crew chief Rudy Fugle made the call for his driver to come down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Restarting 11th after varying pit strategy took place, Byron once again raced his way inside the top-10 running order. Despite fighting a Chevy that was a bit loose on the exit of the corners, Byron was able to power himself through traffic to finish the opening stage in sixth. Still needing more stability in his Chevy, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and another round of both air pressure and chassis adjustments.

      Lining up in seventh for the start of Stage Two, Byron maintained his average running position until just before the field began green-flag pit stops. Instead the caution came out, allowing Byron to come down pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments under yellow-flag conditions. With multiple pit strategies taking place, Byron restarted 14th with under 30 laps to go in the second stage but quickly found himself running within the top-10 running order again. However, as the stage came to an end, Byron reported that the handling of his No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevy had swung to the extremely tight side, leaving him in 10th by the time the green-checkered flag came out. Byron came back down pit road, this time during the stage break for four tires, fuel and another round of air pressure and chassis adjustments.

      After an issue on the pit stop cost Byron some time on pit road, Byron lined up 15th for the start of the final stage. Running just outside the top 10 for the initial part of the segment, Byron pushed his way to ninth late in the going just before coming down pit road under green to make his pit stop. However, just as Byron came down pit road, the caution was displayed, trapping the No. 24 one lap down after they completed their four-tire stop. With the rest of the field pitting under yellow, Byron elected to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap, but in return was mired back in the mid-twenties for the following restart. The driver of the No. 24 RaptorTough Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE made his way back to 19th by the time the final caution was displayed on lap 283. Unfortunately, Byron ran over a piece of debris from the caution and had to come back down pit road for damage repairs on top of getting four tires and fuel to finish out the event. Once again restarting in the mid-twenties, this time with only 24 laps remaining, Byron raced his way through the field reaching 17th by the time the checkered flag flew for the season finale at Phoenix Raceway.

      Kyle Larson scored the victory at Phoenix Raceway Sunday afternoon, securing Hendrick Motorsports’ 14th Cup Series championship. Chase Elliott crossed the finish line with a fourth-place finish. Byron was scored in 17th after having to fix damage late in the race while Alex Bowman finished Sunday’s race in 18th.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports