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      William Byron looking for another jackpot in Vegas

      © 2024 Ben Earp / NKP

      Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube
      Las Vegas Motor Speedway
      Sunday, March 3 | 3:30 p.m. ET

      WINNING WAYS: William Byron’s 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season is off to a career-best start. Following his win in the prestigious DAYTONA 500, Byron rallied to collect a 17th-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway after being collected in an on-track incident. He now sits tied for second in the 2024 Cup Series points standings – the highest he has ever been at this point in the season (his previous best was 17th after two races in 2019). He has 11 Cup Series wins, with 10 coming since the start of 2021 – second to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson (17).

      1.5-MILE MAGIC: Byron is no stranger to success on mile-and-a-half tracks during his Cup Series career. Since the start of 2021 (not counting races on Atlanta after its reprofiling for 2022), he has three wins, two runner-up finishes, nine top-fives and 16 top 10s in 23 races on 1.5-mile tracks. In fact, in 2023, Byron led the series in wins (two, one each at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway) and points collected (303) on that track length. He also has three consecutive top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks, which is the second-longest active streak.

      NEXT GEN DUO: Since the introduction of the Next Gen Cup Series car in 2022, Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle have a series-leading nine wins. The duo leads Hendrick Motorsports teammates driver Kyle Larson (seven wins) and crew chief Cliff Daniels (six wins).

      © 2023 Lesley Ann Miller

      LUCKY IN LAS VEGAS: When the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 takes the green flag for Sunday’s race at Las Vegas, it will mark the 26-year-old driver’s 13th Cup Series start at the 1.5-mile speedway. This time, Byron returns as the defending winner from last year’s spring race. In his victory, Byron swept the stages and led a race-high 176 laps en route to the overtime victory ahead of teammates Larson and Alex Bowman. Including his win, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has two consecutive top-10 finishes at Las Vegas – tied for the second-most currently with Larson. In fact, Byron has led 185 laps at Las Vegas in the Next Gen car which ranks second behind Larson (223).

      VIVA LAS RUDY: Returning to Las Vegas for the seventh time with the Cup Series, Fugle is confident heading to a venue that he has had success at before. In his six Cup Series showings, Fugle has one win (coming in this event last spring), two top-five finishes, four top 10s and an average finish of 8.67. The Livonia, New York, native has called the shots for 11 additional national series races at the track with 10 of those coming in the NASCAR Truck Series. He has collected one win (March 2019), four top-five finishes, six top 10s, three pole awards and 238 laps led in those Truck Series events. With Byron in the Truck Series in 2016, the duo qualified 10th and raced to a fifth-place finish at the 1.5-mile venue.

      © 2024 Nigel Kinrade / NKP

      BYRON ON THE KETS TO THIS WEEKEND: “We hope to be a little bit better this weekend. We always hope that though. We won the first race at Las Vegas last year and then in the second race we had good short run speed but not long run speed. That’s something we’ve been working on this offseason and I think this is a race that the team has had circled to get back to. We want to keep the momentum going that we already have and these next few races coming up are crucial.”

      FULGE TALKS THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS STRETCH OF RACES TO THE PLAYOFFS: “If you think about it, usually we have a few weeks at the start of the season where the races don’t really apply to the playoffs. This year, though, we’ve raced Atlanta and then we go Las Vegas, Phoenix and Bristol. That’s four playoff races in a row with all of them being super, super important. We have to be on our game to get as much information as we can to be ready for when the playoffs come.”

      FUGLE ON WHAT HE EXPECTS THIS WEEKEND: “Right now it looks like it’s going to be pretty cold Sunday in Vegas, so it’ll be pretty gripped up with a lot of throttle. I think at the beginning of a run you’re going to be able to run wide open. It’s going to lose a ton of grip, though, and you’ll see cars get really, really loose over a run. That’s where you will see those comers and goers. The last race there I think is the perfect example of that. It’s also supposed to be really windy this weekend, so we’ll watch that. It could affect how you break the corners apart since the wind will be blowing one direction on one side and the opposite on the other. That will hurt your handling. It should be exciting to watch though.”

      © 2024 Matthew T. Thacker / NKP


      SIGN OF THE FUTURE: In three of the last six instances that Hendrick Motorsports has won the DAYTONA 500, the driver that was victorious in the event went on to win the championship in the same year. Team vice chairman Jeff Gordon accomplished this in 1997 and Jimmie Johnson did it in 2006 and 2013.

      FINE NINE: With wins in the last three spring races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Larson’s playoff race victory in October of 2023, Hendrick Motorsports has tallied nine wins at the 1.5-mile track. That mark leads all Cup Series teams. Johnson’s four victories are a team-high, while Larson has two wins. Bowman, Byron and Gordon each have one win. The five drivers to win at the Nevada venue are also the most by one team.

      TRIP SWEEP: In last year’s spring race, Byron, Larson and Bowman took the top three spots in the finishing order. The trio combined to lead 241 of the 271 laps in the event. It also marked the fourth time (with 2005, 2007 and the spring race of 2022 being the others) that the team took at least the top-two spots in a race at Las Vegas. This race was also one of three occurrences in its storied history where the team swept the top three spots in an event (the DAYTONA 500 in 1997 and the top-four sweep at Dover Motor Speedway in 2021 are the others).

      VIVA LAS VICTORY: In last year’s two races at Las Vegas, Hendrick Motorsports led 69.70% of the laps run (375 of 538). Both race winners (Byron in the spring and Larson in the fall) swept the stages en route to their victories.

      STAGE SAVANTS: Over the last eight races at Las Vegas (dating back to 2020), Hendrick Motorsports has earned 10 of the 16 stage wins. Larson has four, Elliott picked up three, Byron tallied two and Bowman notched one. The team’s 10 stage wins at Las Vegas are its most at any track on the schedule.

      SETTING THE STAGE: The next stage win for Hendrick Motorsports will be its 100th in the Cup Series. Elliott has the most stage wins at Hendrick Motorsports with 37, followed by Larson (32), Byron (21), Bowman (six) and Johnson (three).

      WEST SUCCESS: Of the last 18 races on the West Coast, nine have resulted in victories for Hendrick Motorsports. Larson has five wins, while Byron scored two and Bowman and Elliott have one each. The team’s 44 wins on the West Coast are the most in the series by 21 over the next highest team.

      NEXT GEN NUMBERS: The Concord, North Carolina-based team’s five wins on 1.5-mile tracks in the Next Gen car lead all teams in the Cup Series. Since 2022, Byron and Larson each have two victories on 1.5-milers and are two of the four drivers with multiple victories on that track length. Bowman has one triumph.

      XFINITY SCHEDULE SET: On Tuesday, Hendrick Motorsports announced that it will enter 10 NASCAR Xfinity Series races in the No. 17 Chevrolet Camaro with primary sponsorship from HendrickCars.com. William Byron (four races), Chase Elliott (two races), Kyle Larson (two races), Alex Bowman (one race) and Boris Said (one race) will compete in the entry. Brandon McSwain, who is the lead engineer on the No. 24 Cup Series team, will be the crew chief for Byron’s four races. 2014 Xfinity Series champion crew chief Greg Ives will handle the remaining six races. The schedule kicks off next weekend with Byron at Phoenix Raceway.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports