William Byron had a chance at his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory on Sunday at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway. The Hendrick Motorsports driver in the famed No. 24 Chevrolet at HMS’ best track on the circuit with a shot at a career defining moment.
Byron, hasn’t typically had a strong race car around the Virginia paperclip in the past. He finished 20th or worse in both spring starts at Martinsville and 39th in last year’s playoff race.
But, here the second year driver was finishing sixth in both stages during the First Data 500 and finding himself in second place on the final restart with around 20 laps-to-go in the opening race of the Round of 8.
“This isn’t a place that I’ve loved coming to, and it just clicked this weekend, the things we did with the car going into qualifying and then obviously our race,” Byron said after a career best runner-up finish on Sunday. “Super excited, but second is not super fun, either. We’ll try to get one spot better next time.”
Byron, was locked onto race leader Martin Truex Jr’s bumper for most of the final laps, but Truex was just that good in the end. I mean, there’s a reason why Truex led 464 of 500 laps.
“(Truex) was really strong,” continued Byron. “I could work my brake bias a little bit in the car and gain a little bit, and then I’d get to him and I’d heat him up a lot and then kind of fall back. I don’t really know. He was super strong. Our car bounced a little bit on the short run, which was tough to kind of get around. But overall it was a really good day.”
Byron, is no longer playoff eligible but does head to Texas with three top six finishes in his last five starts on the season.