For the most part, William Byron had a quiet day at ISM Raceway.
Bryon finished 12th in his fourth start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and he spent much of the event floating inside the top 20. And the finish was a career-best for Byron.
But what makes the day stand out is that the 20-year-old spent his first laps at the front of the field.
A two-tire call by crew chief Darian Grubb put the No.24 Chevrolet out front for a restart with 114 laps to go. Sitting in front of a pack of drivers on fresher tires, Byron not only got a solid restart but built up a nice gap in order to lead for 14 laps.
“I think it just showed that I can do it, that I can do those restarts up there,” the reigning Xfinity Series champion said. “I know I have the pace up there to run until our handling kind of took over, but I felt like if we can really start to hone in on what we need a little better, we are going to be right there. It’s going to take a little bit of work, but it was fun to at least be up there a little bit.”
After losing the lead, Byron hung onto a top 10 spot until making his final pit stop on Lap 253. When pit stops cycled through, Byron sat 11th but lost a spot with less than 10 laps to go when Ryan Newman, on fresher tires, overtook him.
“I think the two tires worked for us, just the way our car was handling we were really tight all day and we couldn’t really get that out of it,” said Byron. “But the middle stage of the race we started running closer to the top 10, ninth or 10th I think and that was the perfect call at the time.
“I was a little, I guess, not sure if it was going to work out just because we had done it already one time [in the first stage]. But it worked out, we could keep some of the clean air and I think that was a net gain for sure.”