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      William Byron looking forward to ‘special’ Charlotte 600 as he seeks hometown victory

      © 2021 Nigel Kinrade / NKP

      Coca-Cola 600
      Charlotte Motor Speedway
      Sunday, May 29 | 6 p.m. ET

      HALFWAY THERE: Halfway through the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season, William Byron is continuing to have a career-best year. In 13 races, Byron has scored two wins, four top-five finishes with 569 laps led, three stage wins and 13 playoff points accumulated. The wins, laps led, stage wins and playoff point totals are his most through 13 races in his Cup Series career. He is currently fourth in the driver point standings and is locked into the Cup Series playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

      LEADING THE FIELD: With 13 races complete in 2022, Byron has led laps in 10 of them – tied for the second-most with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson. His 569 laps led are the most by a driver this season. He has also spent the most laps running in the top 10 (2,379) as well as the most laps running within the top five (1,610). The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has also picked up 13 playoff points – the most by any driver so far this season.

      1.5-MILE MOMENTUM: Byron is no stranger to success on mile-and-a-half tracks during his Cup Series career. Since the start of the 2021 season, Byron has two wins, one runner-up finish, five top-fives, and nine top 10s on 1.5-mile tracks. He also has three stage wins with 411 laps led on tracks of that length and an average finish of 8.17.

      HOME SWEET HOME: Cutting his teeth in the racing world in Charlotte, North Carolina, Byron is one of only a handful of drivers who was born and raised in the “home of NASCAR.” After visiting U.S. Legend Cars International headquarters in Harrisburg, North Carolina, with his father in 2012, Byron found himself behind the wheel for the first time the next year competing in the Young Lion Division. Winning 33 of the 69 legend car events he ran across the United States in 2013, Byron went on to lock up the U.S. Legend Car Young Lions National championship and the Thursday Thunder Young Lion championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Progressing to the Legend Car Pro Division the next season, Byron also signed with JR Motorsports’ developmental program at the same time. From that point on, Byron hasn’t slowed down any as he climbed the racing ranks before ultimately making it to the top level of NASCAR as a Cup Series rookie in 2018.

      CUE CHARLOTTE: In his Cup Series career, Byron has five starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval, with four of them being the 600-mile event on Memorial Day weekend. In just his second start at Charlotte in 2019, Byron became the youngest pole sitter for the 600 at the age of 21 years, 5 months, and 24 days. In his five total Cup Series starts, Byron has one pole award, one top-five finish and two top 10s with 61 laps led at his hometown track, including a track-best finish of fourth in last year’s race. Other than his five Cup Series starts at Charlotte, the 24-year-old driver has two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts as well as one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start.

      RUDY RUNS CLT: Sunday will mark crew chief Rudy Fugle’s second time on top of the pit box for the 600-mile event at Charlotte. In last year’s race, Fugle led the No. 24 team to a fourth-place finish after running within the top five for 372 of the 400 laps. Aside from his one Cup Series start, Fugle has 10 other starts at Charlotte on his résumé, with all but two of those coming in the Truck Series. The Livonia, New York, native has collected two wins (2013 and 2019), four top-five finishes, and six top 10s. In fact, his Truck Series drivers completed all 1,077 laps run in those races with 310 laps led. One of those truck starts came with Byron in 2016, when the duo led 25 laps en route to a 10th-place finish.

      BYRON TALKS WHAT RACING AT CHARLOTTE MEANS TO HIM: “Racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway is always special for me. I grew up watching races here as a fan, I raced Legend cars on the quarter-mile and have raced there in every series of NASCAR for the most part. It’s a hometown race for Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports as well. You always want to run good when the shop is literally across the street. Winning the 600 would already mean so much given the history of this race, but it would carry even more meaning for myself. We ran well in last year’s 600, the biggest difference will be with the Next Gen car. I think we have some good notes on mile-and-a-half tracks so far this year, and with how long the race is, it gives us time to adjust throughout the race if we need to.”

      FUGLE ON WHAT HE EXPECTS THIS WEEKEND: “Even though we have raced at two mile-and-a-half track in a row now, I think we can take the most away from the race at Kansas (Speedway). We had a fast car that weekend and I think with how the race played out, we could have had a shot to be there in the end, or at least finish top five. About the only thing we can apply from last weekend’s race at Texas (Motor Speedway) is that they applied the resin in the upper lanes. That will effect the handling of the car throughout a run, especially going from day to night like we will during the 600. It’s a long race though and you want to make sure you keep up with how the track changes so you don’t fall behind early on.”

      © 2021 Nigel Kinrade / NKP


      NEARING 100,000: Hendrick Motorsports needs to lead 305 miles to cross 100,000 miles led. To date, the organization has led 99,695.90 miles in its storied history with 1,238.43 miles led coming this season. In last year’s race on Charlotte 1.5-mile layout, Hendrick Motorsports led 559.5 of a possible 600 miles.

      HISTORICAL HIGHS: In this race last year, Hendrick Motorsports earned its 269th NASCAR Cup Series win to pass Petty Enterprises to become the all-time winningest team in Cup history. All four Hendrick Motorsports cars placed in the top-five marking the first time in the history of the Memorial Day weekend event that a team had four drivers finish in the top five. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott’s 1-2 finish was the third instance that teammates finished in the top two in this 600-mile race.

      BLACKJACK: Hendrick Motorsports has 21 wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway among nine drivers, which are tied (with Junior Johnson and Associates’ 21 wins at Bristol Motor Speedway) for the third-most Cup Series victories at any one particular track by an organization. The team also holds the top two spots on this list with its win totals at Martinsville Speedway (27) and Dover Motor Speedway (22). Interestingly enough, Hendrick Motorsports has won at both Martinsville (with William Byron) and Dover (with Elliott) this season.

      ENDURING STRENGTH: The 600-mile race at Charlotte is a test of everything – machine, pit crew and driver. The longest race on the Cup schedule has been won 12 times by Hendrick Motorsports – that’s more than the second- and third-place teams on the list combined (Richard Childress Racing with six wins and Petty Enterprises with five).

      DEEP SIX: Six drivers have won this race in the team’s history. Jimmie Johnson’s four wins (2003, 2004, 2005 and 2014) as part of his track-best eight wins serve as the team high and are followed by Jeff Gordon with three wins (1994, 1997 and 1998). Darrell Waltrip was the first Hendrick Motorsports driver to win this crown jewel event and he won it in back-to-back years (1988 and 1989). Casey Mears (2007), Kasey Kahne (2012) and Larson (2021) each have one win.

      FLASH BACK: Since last year’s race on the Charlotte oval, Hendrick Motorsports has won 17 of the 35 points-paying races (a 48.6% winning percentage) held in the Cup Series. That mark is one less than the combined total by every other team in Cup over the same span.

      MIDWAY MARK: At the midway point of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season, Hendrick Motorsports has five wins in 2022 – the most in the series. The organization is the fastest to have its entire four-car lineup win in one season as it achieved that in the first 11 races of the season.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports