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      William Byron’s win streak comes to an end in Atlanta

      © 2023 David Rosenblum / NKP

      Start: 11th
      Finish: 32nd

      With no practice at Atlanta Motor Speedway after the track reconfiguration, William Byron had one lap on track Saturday, qualifying in the 11th position in the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. When the field went green for the 260-lap event, Byron quickly maneuvered his way inside the top-10 running order. When the first caution came out on lap 10, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native was scored ninth and reported that he liked the handling of his Chevy. Electing to restart in the low lane again, Byron lined up seventh on lap 15. Byron continued to try make the bottom line work as the run went on, but unfortunately not many other cars were willing to go with him. The further back in line Byron fell, unable to find a gap in the high lane, Byron reported that his No. 24 Chevy would build tight on handling. As the end of the stage wound down, Byron did his best to leap frog his competitors, reaching 11th at the end of stage one. Under the stage break, the driver of the No. 24 came down pit road for four tires, fuel and both a chassis and an air pressure adjustment.

      Lining up in the high lane this time, Byron started the second stage from the 16th spot. However, early on, Byron jumped back down in the bottom lane to see if he could make it work. Able to reach the top 10 by lap 76, Byron held his position until the low lane once again began to disperse. Byron was able to slide back into the top groove, in 11th, and was reminded by his team to save as much fuel as possible as they were now running single-file. Halfway through the stage, Byron radioed that his No. 24 was a bit on the free side and needed about half an adjustment compared to the last pit stop. As green-flag pit stops began, Byron stayed on track working his way up to the second position before coming down pit road on lap 137 for fuel and a chassis adjustment. Once green-flag pit stops cycled through fully, Byron was scored in fourth. The 25-year-old driver maintain a top-five position in the closing laps of the stage, ultimately crossing the line in fifth. Liking the handling of his race car, Byron came down pit road under the stage break for four tires and fuel.

      With varying pit strategy playing out during the stage break, Byron elected to restart third. Getting a great push, Byron rocketed to second and ran within the top-two positions before being reminded that saving fuel and not leading was more important at that moment. Settling into third on lap 183, Byron continued to maintain that position, preparing for final green-flag pit stops, but unfortunately was collected in an on-track incident just seven laps later. Unable to continue, Byron was credited with a 32nd-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

      © 2023 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      Despite the Hendrick Motorsports cars running up front for most of the race, they didn’t get the results they deserved at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Alex Bowman was the highest finisher in the organization, crossing the stripe in 14th. Josh Berry, filling in for the injured Chase Elliott, scored an 18th-place finish despite sustaining damage earlier in the event. Unfortunately, both Kyle Larson and Byron were collected in on-track incidents, relinquishing them to 31st and 32nd.

      William Byron: “It was superspeedway-type racing. I thought for the most part, it was pretty single-file all day. That was a little discouraging because the bottom lane wouldn’t really go that much. But as we all started to save fuel on the top, the bottom started to surge there. It looked like the No. 1 (Ross Chastain) and the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) just got connected there into turn one and got the No. 4 loose.

      “It’s just part of racing. That’s the way it goes, not really in our control. We were up there running in the top-five and doing what we needed to do. Thank you to Liberty University and all of our partners. We’ll go to COTA (Circuit of the Americas) and hopefully control a little bit more there and get a win.”

      Via Hendrick Motorsports