Byron to make 100th Cup start at Richmond

A significant milestone is in the making for William Byron, a 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff contender and driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Hendrick Motorsports. When Byron takes the green flag this weekend at Richmond Raceway, he will reach 100 starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

A native from Charlotte, North Carolina, Byron was a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor for JR Motorsports when he was announced as a full-time Cup competitor for Hendrick Motorsports in August 2017 for the 2018 season, replacing veteran Kasey Kahne. Near the end of August, HMS then announced that Byron will be driving the iconic No. 24 car sponsored by AXALTA and Liberty University in 2018 while Chase Elliott, who was in his second season driving the No. 24 car, will be driving the 9 car, a number his father, Bill, drove, the following season. Three months later, Byron went on to claim the 2017 Xfinity Series championship.

Byron made his Cup debut in the 2018 Daytona 500 with veteran Darian Grubb serving as his crew chief. He finished 23rd in his first start in NASCAR’s premier series after being involved in two separate incidents. Six races later, he recorded his first top-10 result, eighth place, at Texas Motor Speedway in April. Through the first 18 races of the season and in his rookie Cup season, Byron recorded one top-10 result and five top-15 results while also recording four DNFs. Near the end of July and the beginning of August, he recorded back-to-back top-10 results at Pocono Raceway (sixth place) and at Watkins Glen International (eighth place).


American Muscle

By the time the regular-season concluded in September at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Byron was ranked in 22nd place in the regular-season standings and failed to qualify for the 2018 Cup Playoffs. For the final 10 Cup races of the 2018 season, he recorded only one top-10 result (ninth place at Phoenix Raceway), he sustained four DNFs and he concluded the season in 23rd place in the final standings. Despite the challenges to his rookie season, Byron was able to beat Bubba Wallace for the Rookie-of-the-Year title.

In 2019, Byron was paired with seven-time championship-winning crew chief Chad Knaus, who completed a 17-year run with seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team in the Cup circuit. In Byron’s first run with Knaus, he recorded his first Cup career pole for the 2019 Daytona 500. Byron’s pole was the fifth year in a row where a car from Hendrick Motorsports earned the pole position for the Daytona 500 as he also recorded the 700th Cup pole for Chevrolet. Byron, however, finished 21st during the main event after being involved in a late multi-car accident.

Following the first six races of the 2019 season, where he finished no higher than 15th, Byron recorded his first top-10 result of the season at Texas Motor Speedway in April (sixth place). Throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch, Byron achieved four poles, three top-five results and nine top-10 results. He was able to rack enough points and consistent runs to make the 2019 Cup Playoffs along with teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman.

During the first round of the 2019 Cup Playoffs (three races), Byron finished seventh, 24th and sixth as he also claimed his fifth pole of the season at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. His results in the first round of the Playoffs were enough for him and the No. 24 team to transfer into the second round of the Playoffs. During the second round, he finished 13th, 33rd and sixth, and failed to advance to the third round of the Playoffs. Nonetheless, he went on to finish in second place at Martinsville Speedway in October and conclude his sophomore season in 11th place in the final standings.

Byron and Knaus started this season off by winning the second Bluegreen Vacations Duel qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway in February and lining up in fourth place for the Daytona 500. Despite starting the Daytona 500 strong, Byron’s run came to an end past the one-quarter mark of the race when contact from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sent Byron spinning and making hard contact against the inside wall, ending his run in last place of the 40-car field.

For the first 18 Cup races of this season, Byron achieved four top-10 results and was ranked in 17th place in the regular-season standings. He went on to achieve four additional top-10 results over the next 12 races. After finishing eighth, 28th and fourth the next three races, Byron retained the final transfer spot to the 2020 Cup Playoffs by a mere margin over teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Then, the following week, Byron’s roller coaster start in the Cup circuit concluded after he held off teammate Chase Elliott and the field in a late shootout to score his first Cup career win at Daytona International Speedway, the regular-season finale, in his 98th series start. The victory allowed Byron, Knaus and the No. 24 team to claim a spot in the Playoffs. He also became the 19th different competitor to win while driving for Hendrick Motorsports, only the second competitor to win driving the No. 24 car along with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon and he recorded the team’s 260th Cup career victory.

Byron, who is a Cup Playoff contender for the second consecutive season, is coming off a fifth-place result in the first Playoff race at Darlington Raceway. He is ranked in ninth place in the Playoff standings and is nine points above the top-12 cutline to advance to the second round of the Playoffs.

Catch Byron’s milestone start at Richmond Raceway on Saturday, September 12, at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.


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