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      William Byron tallies another top-10 result at Martinsville but misses out on Championship 4

      © 2022 John K Harrelson / NKP

      Start: 25th
      Finish: 7th
      Standings: 6th

      For qualifying Saturday, William Byron secured a 25th-place starting position for Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. When the green flag was displayed for the start of the 500-lap event, Byron picked up one position right away, moving the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to 24th. Fighting a tight race car initially, the handling of his Chevy started to shift on the long green run as Byron continued to pick up positions. Entering the top 20 on lap 99, Byron continued to try make up ground, racing to 18th in the closing laps of the opening stage. However, with one lap to go, Byron was caught a lap down, but was able to maintain his position at the stage one end. Receiving the “lucky dog” to get his lap back, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to aid with his tight Chevy.

      Having to restart at the tail of the field for the start of stage two due to getting his lap back, Byron went to work maneuvering his way through lap traffic. Byron was able to take over the 17th position early on in the run. However, at the halfway point in the race, the leader unfortunately caught the driver of the No. 24, putting him one lap down. Byron continued to fight to try make up track position, grabbing a 16th-place finish to end stage two. Still fighting a tight No. 24 Chevy, Byron came down pit road under the stage break for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.

      Lining up 15th for the start of the final stage, Byron positioned himself as the first car one lap down, which paid off when the caution came out a few laps later. Getting the “lucky dog,” crew chief Rudy Fugle called his driver down pit road for four tires and fuel before lining up at the tail of the field again. Running 15th but trying to maneuver through lap traffic, the caution came out on lap 319 allowing Byron to come back down pit road for four tires and fuel. Restarting 16th with 171 laps remaining, Byron once again started to work his way to the front, reaching 14th by the time the caution came back out, this time on lap 392. Needing more grip, Byron came down pit road under yellow for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. On the choose, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native picked the high lane, putting him 12th with under 100 laps to go. Entering the top-10 momentarily as the run went on, Byron ultimately was scored 11th when the caution came out on lap 466. Needing help on the short run, Fugle made the call for his driver to pit for two right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The pit strategy allowed Byron to restart in the fifth position. Still fighting the handling of his No. 24 Chevy, Byron dropped to seventh on the restart, but was able to maintain that position for the final 24 laps, crossing the finish line in seventh. Unfortunately, Byron was not able to score enough points Sunday to propel him to the final four of the playoffs.

      © 2022 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      Kyle Larson led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the finish line Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, crossing the stripe in the runner-up position. Byron scored a top-10 finish, securing a seventh-place effort. Chase Elliott also scored a top-10 result, finishing 10th. Noah Gragson ended the day in 25th.

      William Byron: “Unfortunately, we weren’t really in the game. I knew that early on in the race, we were making some progress, but we just struggled all day. The first three-quarters of the race were pretty miserable. Nothing like what we had in the spring. We were just tight with not a lot of pace. The No. 24 Liberty University Chevy team kept their heads down and got a decent finish out of it, so that was a good lesson for the day.”

      Via Hendrick Motorsports