|FIRST FIVE: Already five races into the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron has made improvements during his sophomore year. Opening up the campaign with his first Cup Series pole for the Daytona 500, Byron has improved his average qualifying position during the first five races of the season by almost 10 spots, from 22.6 in 2018 to 13.4 in 2019. In four out of five races so far this season, Byron has improved or tied his previous best finish at each track, except for ISM Raceway, where he was on pace for a top-15 finish but a loose wheel in the closing laps hindered his result. At this point last season, Byron and the No. 24 team had led 16 laps compared to 68 laps led already this season, more than the total laps he led in all of 2018. He ranks second among the Chevrolet lap leaders for 2019.
MARTINSVILLE MERIT: Since attending his first Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in 2006 as a fan, Byron has since moved through the NASCAR ranks and is now poised to make his fifth start at the paperclip – his third in the Cup Series. Building off of his first Cup Series race at Martinsville, where he started and finished 20th, Byron qualified a track-best 11th in the fall but his day was cut short when an incident on pit road after Stage 1 left him with brake issues, relinquishing him to a 39th-place finish. The 21-year-old driver’s other two Martinsville starts both came in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series in 2016 when he qualified seventh for both events and raced to a third-place finish in the spring and an eighth-place finish in the fall.
AT IT AGAIN WITH AXALTA: Once again, Byron will carry the iconic Axalta flames on his No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the fourth time in 2019. Axalta Coating Systems will be on board Byron’s machine again next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway as well as Bristol Motor Speedway the following weekend.
SPECIAL THANKS FROM AXALTA: Unloading at the 0.526-mile oval this weekend, Byron’s No. 24 Axalta Chevy paint scheme will have an added touch of appreciation for Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will feature the names of employees from Axalta’s Front Royal, Virginia, site. As one of Axalta’s top-performing sites in 2018, Front Royal manufactures paint for commercial vehicles, industrial products and collision repair. In recognition of their success, Mike Carr – vice president of Axalta and president for Axalta’s Americas region – wanted a unique way to recognize the employees and say, “Thank you,” so, Front Royal employees will have their names displayed on the back of Byron’s No. 24 Axalta Chevy. In addition, 28 lucky Front Royal employees will make the trip to Martinsville Speedway for Sunday’s race.
KNAUS’ KNACK FOR MARTINSVILLE: Switching gears to the first short-track race of the season, No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus will call the shots on top of the pit box for his 38th NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. A track rich in history and known for the sought-after grandfather clock trophy, Martinsville is a track where Knaus has found success. Collecting nine wins, the second-highest amount at one track in his career (11 wins at Dover), his most recent win at the paperclip came in the fall of 2016. Knaus hopes to add to his grandfather clock collection with a win this weekend with Byron and the No. 24 Axalta team.
FONTANA FINISH: Byron collected his first top-15 finish of the 2019 season when the NASCAR Cup Series wrapped up the West Coast swing last weekend in Fontana, California. The No. 24 Axalta Chevy had speed early on, but Byron would ultimately lose positions over long green-flag runs due to handling issues. The sophomore driver fought hard to climb his way back into the top 15 in the closing laps, grabbing the 15th position as he crossed the finish line for the 200-lap event.