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      William Byron puts together another top-five result at Homestead-Miami

      © 2023 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      Unloading this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the second race in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 8, William Byron showed decent speed in practice on Saturday before qualifying in the seventh position. When the green flag flew on Sunday’s race, Byron went to work quickly maneuvering his No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 through traffic. Within the first 10 laps, he had already entered the top-five running order before taking the lead on lap 20. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native continued to pace the field until green-flag pit stops began. Radioing that he was a little tight that initial run, crew chief Rudy Fugle called his driver down pit road on lap 34 for four tires, fuel and a minor air pressure adjustment. Once the pit cycle was complete, Byron was scored in the third position. As the run continued and Byron found himself in heavier traffic, he relayed to his team that he was still too tight before dropping to the fourth position. The caution came out on lap 76, ending the first stage under yellow with Byron scored in fourth and capturing crucial stage points in the process. During the stage break, Fugle made the call for four tires, fuel and both an air pressure and chassis adjustment for his driver.

      Choosing to restart in the high lane, Byron lined up fourth for the start of stage two but quickly made a three-wide pass to take over second once the field went back green. Still a bit tight during the run, Byron slipped back to third but kept his ground until green-flag pit stops began to cycle once again. On lap 115, Fugle called his driver down pit road to the attention of his team for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Once the pit cycle was complete, Byron was scored fourth, but quickly moved his way back to third with his fresher tires. With lap times faster than most on track, the 25-year-old driver was reminded to manage his equipment for the long run. Closing in on the end of stage two, Byron made the pass for second and held on to that spot until the green-checkered flag was displayed at stage end. Needing more rear-tire longevity, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and both a chassis and air pressure adjustment.

      Electing to take the low lane on the restart, Byron restarted on the front row for the start of the final stage. He momentarily took the lead on the restart but ultimately drifted back to fourth as the run went on. He reported that his No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was a little “squirmy” on the short run. Just as Byron was about to come down pit road for his green-flag pit stop, he was told to stay out as the caution flag had come out at the same time on lap 214. After a brief red flag for cleanup, Byron came down pit road once it opened for four tires, fuel and another round of chassis and air pressure adjustments. Taking the high lane to restart fourth with 46 laps to go, Byron was in the midst of a four-wide battle as the caution flag came back out almost immediately. Electing to take the low lane the next time, Byron lined up third for the ensuing restart but quickly took over the runner-up position before the caution was displayed once again, this time on lap 235. Needing a bit more help with his corner turn, Fugle called his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The No. 24 crew brought the heat, winning Byron the race off pit road to re-take the lead. Going back green with 25 laps remaining, Byron maintained his lead and tried to gap the field in the closing laps. Despite attempts to block the air of the competitor behind him, Byron was ultimately overtaken with 15 laps to go. Continuing to fight the handling of his race car, Byron powered through the remaining laps, crossing the finish line with a top-five result in fourth at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

      © 2023 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP

      Byron took the lead late in the race but ultimately crossed the finish line with a fourth-place result, leading his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the checkered flag. Chase Elliott secured a top-15 finish, crossing the stripe in 15th. Alex Bowman dealt with an ill-handling Chevy all race, but rallied to a 19th-place result. Kyle Larson unfortunately was involved in an on-track incident that resulted in a 34th-place finish.

      William Byron“We just didn’t have the turn in our car to go into a run, so we just struggled there to fire-off. I was doing all I could to air-block; move my line around and try to take his air, but it just wasn’t enough. I couldn’t get through the middle well enough to maintain pace. But our No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet was really solid all day. We just needed more there at the end, but we had good execution, good pit stops and put ourselves in position to win.”

      Via Hendrick Motorsports