William Byron Earns Southern 500 Pole

(DARLINGTON, SC - RIS - AUG 31, 2019)

Fireball Roberts, Bill Elliott, then William Byron – all three racers have something in common: they won the pole for the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500 in the same season of racing.

"I don't know. I guess we dropped the hammer on that one!" laughed Byron. "But no, it was good. The car was really good for us. We luckily did a mock run yesterday. We had enough time to do one at the end of the first practice session and I feel like that helped us just propel our qualifying effort a little bit more. We kind of knew what the grip level was going to be like and kind of what our balance was going to be. It's good to have the No. 24 City Chevrolet on the pole and we'll just see what we can do for 500 miles."

Time Trial Results: 70th Annual Bojangles' Southern 500

Pos, Driver, Car, Time, Speed, Lap #, # Laps, -Fastest, -Next
1)William Byron, No. 24 HendrickAutoguard/CityChevThrowback Chev, 28.510, 172.487, 1, 1, 0.000, 0.000
2)Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Miller Ford, 28.576, 172.088, 1, 1, 0.066, 0.066
3)Kyle Larson, No. 42 Clover Chevrolet, 28.617, 171.842, 1, 1, 0.107, 0.041
4)Kurt Busch, No. 1 Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet, 28.630, 171.764, 1, 1, 0.120, 0.013
5)Daniel Suarez, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford, 28.704, 171.321, 1, 1, 0.194, 0.074
6)Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevrolet, 28.724, 171.202, 1, 1, 0.214, 0.020
7)Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 28.756, 171.011, 1, 1, 0.246, 0.032
8)Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Throwback Chevrolet, 28.766, 170.952, 1, 1, 0.256, 0.010
9)Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Darlington Throwback Toyota, 28.787, 170.827, 1, 1, 0.277, 0.021
10)Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford, 28.801, 170.744, 1, 1, 0.291, 0.014
11)Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Busch Beer/Big Buck Hunter Ford, 28.812, 170.679, 1, 1, 0.302, 0.011
12)Chris Buescher, No. 37 Kroger Fast Lane to Flavor Chevrolet, 28.829, 170.578, 1, 1, 0.319, 0.017
13)Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford, 28.831, 170.566, 1, 1, 0.321, 0.002
14)Austin Dillon, No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet, 28.841, 170.507, 1, 1, 0.331, 0.010
15)Erik Jones, No. 20 Sport Clips Throwback Toyota, 28.848, 170.466, 1, 1, 0.338, 0.007
16)Alex Bowman, No. 88 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet, 28.855, 170.425, 1, 1, 0.345, 0.007
17)Paul Menard, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, 28.872, 170.324, 1, 1, 0.362, 0.017
18)Daniel Hemric #, No. 8 Caterpillar Chevrolet, 28.892, 170.206, 1, 1, 0.382, 0.020
19)Matt DiBenedetto, No. 95 No. 95 IMSA GTO Throwback Toyota, 28.905, 170.130, 1, 1, 0.395, 0.013
20)Ryan Preece #, No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 28.910, 170.100, 1, 1, 0.400, 0.005
21)Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Dog's Most Wanted Ford, 28.931, 169.977, 1, 1, 0.421, 0.021
22)Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 28.956, 169.830, 1, 1, 0.446, 0.025
23)Michael McDowell, No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford, 29.017, 169.473, 1, 1, 0.507, 0.061
24)Ryan Newman, No. 6 Oscar Mayer/Velveeta Ford, 29.019, 169.461, 1, 1, 0.509, 0.002
25)Landon Cassill(i), No. 00 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet, 29.087, 169.065, 1, 1, 0.577, 0.068
26)David Ragan, No. 38 Shriners Hospital for Children Ford, 29.097, 169.007, 1, 1, 0.587, 0.010
27)Corey LaJoie, No. 32 CorvetteParts.net Ford, 29.103, 168.972, 1, 1, 0.593, 0.006
28)Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Victory Junction 15th Anniversary Chevrolet, 29.163, 168.625, 1, 1, 0.653, 0.060
29)Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet, 29.173, 168.567, 1, 1, 0.663, 0.010
30)Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 29.229, 168.244, 1, 1, 0.719, 0.056
31)Ross Chastain(i), No. 15 Chevrolet, 29.239, 168.186, 1, 1, 0.729, 0.010
32)Matt Tifft #, No. 36 Hilliker Glass/Surface Ford, 29.272, 167.997, 1, 1, 0.762, 0.033
33)Kyle Busch, No. 18 Snickers Throwback Toyota, 29.385, 167.351, 1, 1, 0.875, 0.113
34)Reed Sorenson, No. 77 Motor Racing Network Chevrolet, 29.764, 165.220, 1, 1, 1.254, 0.379
35)JJ Yeley(i), No. 52 JACOB Companies Chevrolet, 29.796, 165.042, 1, 1, 1.286, 0.032
36)BJ McLeod(i), No. 51 JACOB Companies Chevrolet, 30.070, 163.538, 1, 1, 1.560, 0.274
37)Joe Nemechek(i), No. 27 Chevrolet, 30.260, 162.512, 1, 1, 1.750, 0.190
38)Garrett Smithley(i), No. 54 AQRE App Chevrolet, 30.568, 160.874, 1, 1, 2.058, 0.308
39)Joey Gase(i), No. 66 MBM Motorsports Toyota, 30.888, 159.207, 1, 1, 2.378, 0.320
(i)Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

*Required to qualify on time, OP - Top 30 in Owner Points

Track Qualifying Record: Kevin Harvick: 04/12/14; 26.802 sec; 183.479 mph

Starting Line Up: 70th Annual Bojangles' Southern 500 Darlington Raceway

Pos, Driver, Car, Time, Speed
1)William Byron, No. 24 HendrickAtgrd/CtyChvrltThrwbck Chev, 28.510 sec, 172.487 mph
2)Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Miller Ford, 28.576, 172.088
3)Kyle Larson, No. 42 Clover Chevrolet, 28.617, 171.842
4)Kurt Busch, No. 1 Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet, 28.630, 171.764
5)Daniel Suarez, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford, 28.704, 171.321
6)Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Throwback Chevrolet, 28.724, 171.202
7)Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 28.756, 171.011
8)Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Throwback Chevrolet, 28.766, 170.952
9)Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Darlington Throwback Toyota, 28.787, 170.827
10)Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford, 28.801, 170.744
11)Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Busch Beer/Big Buck Hunter Ford, 28.812, 170.679
12)Chris Buescher, No. 37 Kroger Fast Lane to Flavor Chevrolet, 28.829, 170.578
13)Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford, 28.831, 170.566
14)Austin Dillon, No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet, 28.841, 170.507
15)Erik Jones, No. 20 Sport Clips Throwback Toyota, 28.848, 170.466
16)Alex Bowman, No. 88 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet, 28.855, 170.425
17)Paul Menard, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, 28.872, 170.324
18)Daniel Hemric #, No. 8 Caterpillar Chevrolet, 28.892, 170.206
19)Matt DiBenedetto, No. 95 No. 95 IMSA GTO Throwback Toyota, 28.905, 170.130
20)Ryan Preece #, No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 28.910, 170.100
21)Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Dog's Most Wanted Ford, 28.931, 169.977
22)Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 28.956, 169.830
23)Michael McDowell, No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford, 29.017, 169.473
24)Ryan Newman, No. 6 Oscar Mayer/Velveeta Ford, 29.019, 169.461
25)Landon Cassill(i), No. 00 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet, 29.087, 169.065
26)David Ragan, No. 38 Shriners Hospital for Children Ford, 29.097, 169.007
27)Corey LaJoie, No. 32 CorvetteParts.net Ford, 29.103, 168.972
28)Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Victory Junction 15th Anniversary Chevrolet, 29.163, 168.625
29)Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet, 29.173, 168.567
30)Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 29.229, 168.244
31)Ross Chastain(i), No. 15 Chevrolet, 29.239, 168.186
32)Matt Tifft #, No. 36 Hilliker Glass/Surface Ford, 29.272, 167.997
33)Kyle Busch, No. 18 Snickers Throwback Toyota, 29.385, 167.351
34)Reed Sorenson, No. 77 Motor Racing Network Chevrolet, 29.764, 165.220
35)JJ Yeley(i), No. 52 JACOB Companies Chevrolet, 29.796, 165.042
36)BJ McLeod(i), No. 51 JACOB Companies Chevrolet, 30.070, 163.538
37)Joe Nemechek(i), No. 27 Chevrolet, 30.260, 162.512
38)Garrett Smithley(i), No. 54 AQRE App Chevrolet, 30.568, 160.874
39)Joey Gase(i), No. 66 MBM Motorsports Toyota, 30.888, 159.207
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Qualifying Fast Facts:70th Annual Bojangles
Age: 21
Team : No. 24 - Hendrick Autoguard/City Chevrolet Throwback Chevrolet
Owner: Rick Hendrick
Crew Chief: Chad Knaus

William Byron won the Pole Award for the 70th Annual Bojangles' Southern 500 with a lap of 28.51 seconds, 172.487 mph.
This is his fourth pole in 61 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races.
This is his fourth pole and 12th top-10 start in 2019.
This is his first pole in two races at Darlington Raceway.

Brad Keselowski (second) posted his 14th top-10 start of 2019 and his seventh in 11 races at Darlington Raceway.

Kyle Larson (third) posted his third top-10 start at Darlington Raceway. It is his 11th in 25 races this season.

Daniel Hemric (18th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.

William Byron quotes:
ANOTHER CROWN JEWEL POLE FOR YOU. DID YOU AND CHAD KNAUS (CREW CHIEF) LOOK AT THE SCHEDULE AND SAID OKAY, LET'S MAKE SURE WE WIN THE POLE AT THESE TRACKS? "No, it seems like we put more into those qualifying efforts just knowing how important track position is and knowing if we can have the number one pit stall all day long and/or all night long, it would be a big deal. We'll see what happens. It's a really long race. I've just got to run all 500 miles. We're in a good spot with the points, so we can be aggressive."

IN PRACTICE YESTERDAY, OUTSIDE OF THAT VERY GOOD MOCK QUALIFYING RUN, WHAT DID YOU DISCOVER ABOUT YOUR CAR IN RACE TRIM? "I thought we were solid. You're always looking for more rear grip, more turn; it's typical of short track or slick race track things. But, I felt like our rear grip was better toward the end of practice. We were a little bit tight in the final run on stickers. Off of (Turn) 4 wasn't quite as good as we wanted to be, but we made some good adjustments overnight and leaned on our teammates, too. And, I think we're in a decent spot for tomorrow. It's all about patience and trying to get through the last 100 laps with a good shot at it; and with a clean right-side, too."

OTHER THAN 'DROP THE HAMMER', WHAT IS YOUR MOST-USED DAYS OF THUNDER PHRASE FROM YOUR LIPS THIS WEEKEND? "Oh, man. I don't even know. I guess we shaved this one like a bullet. So, we'll see what happens."

William Byron Press Conference: WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 HENDRICK AUTOGUARD/CITY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:

DESCRIBE YOUR RUN AND TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW FUN THIS WEEKEND IS, ESPECIALLY IN THE GARAGE WITH ALL THE PAINT SCHEMES REMEMBERING DIFFERENT THINGS THROUGHOUT OUR SPORT. “Yeah, its been really cool for us. How the Days of Thunder started for us was obviously with City Chevrolet and Mr. Hendrick, that makes perfect sense. But Chad (Knaus) actually had a movie night for all the team guys back in April and we watched Days of Thunder. It was really cool. It’s a pretty new team and to just kind of have that experience together, being able to remember the movie pretty clearly this weekend, and kind of go through it at the track has been pretty neat. Everything has gone smooth for us so far this weekend and hopefully that continues into the race. The race is ultimately what matters, but qualifying is a good start, especially having the number one pit stall.”

ARE YOU CONCENTRATING A LOT ON THESE MARQUEE RACES? AS YOU KNOW, YOU’RE THE THIRD DRIVER EVER TO WIN POLES FOR THE DAYTONA 500, COKE 600 AND SOUTHERN 500 IN THE SAME SEASON. 

“Yeah, it’s awesome. I was listening to the broadcast and heard that. I don’t think so, other than just the fact that we put a lot of effort into the qualifying efforts at those tracks. This weekend, not so much because it’s an impound race. Our race setup was good in qualifying trim. I think it just happened to work out that way that we focused on qualifying. I’m sure Chad (Knaus) puts his extra little bit into it too and I put my extra into it to make sure that I hit everything right. I felt good driving down here this morning. Only having to make one lap today is pretty easy, so I just went out there and tried to not screw up and make a good lap.” 

YOU KNOW IN THE DAYS OF THUNDER MOVIE, COLE TRICKLE WON HIS FIRST CUP RACE AT DARLINGTON. DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE THAT ON YOUR SIDE? “Yeah, he won at Darlington so hopefully we can continue that. I think it would be really fitting. I have definitely thought of that. It’s just a really tough race track to get your first win at, but guys have done it in the past. We just have to focus in and try to do that myself. I think we have a good car. Practice went smooth for us, I think we were a top-10 car in averages so that’s good.”

I KNOW YOU WERE BORN A LITTLE AFTER THE MOVIE WAS FIRST RELEASED, BUT AS A YOUNGER DRIVER, IS THE WHOLE DAYS OF THUNDER THEME AND HOW INTO YOU AND YOUR TEAM HAS GOTTEN THIS WEEK FUN FOR YOU GUYS AND TAKE A LITTLE BIT OF THE PRESSURE OFF? “Yeah, it’s really fun. We are at a good point of the season where we’ve done a good job up to this point to get some points and help our Playoff position. I feel like that has allowed us to have more fun with this weekend and not be so uptight. We still need to have a really good weekend to put ourselves into position to go into Indianapolis and be clinched into the Playoffs. But, right now, we are just trying to have some fun with the throwback paint scheme and enjoy the weekend. We’ve circled this race on our calendars for awhile because I feel like it takes every part of you as a driver, as a team and a car. It will be a good race.”

YOU MENTIONED YOUR POINTS POSITION AND DOING A VERY GOOD JOB OF POINTS RACING. ARE YOU STILL POINTS RACING OR CAN YOU NOW STRATGIZE MORE ON TRYING TO WIN A RACE? “Yeah, definitely trying to just win this weekend. That has been the goal the last three weeks, just try to win a race and give ourselves some Playoff points. I don’t think there is a whole lot you can do different. Here, you need tires every time you are on the race track so it’s an easy four tires every time pretty much. That makes the strategy easy to be aggressive I guess for the win. I think this is one of those races where it’s pretty old school. It’s going to be about the best driver, best car, best team. There’s really no way around that.”

Ford Notes:

PAUL MENARD, No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Mustang – "The time that we qualified I'm not sure being early or late is a big difference. The sun is gonna get a little bit lower in the sky, but the air temp is actually supposed to go up a little bit, so I don't think that's an issue. I felt there was more grip than I anticipated. Yesterday the track was hot and slippery with all the cars running and now you're out here by yourself and the track doesn't have as much heat in it, and it's got a lot of grip."

HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR THROWBACK SCHEME? "It's been good. Obviously, this is all about honoring Mr. Glenn Wood – driving a scheme that he drove in a convertible in 1957, so we're throwing it way back. Every week kind of feels like a throwback with these guys. They're a lot of fun to be with. Eddie and Len always have a story to tell and when Mr. Leonard comes to the race track it's always a good time."

DID YOU GET A CHANCE TO SEE THE DOCUMENTARY LAST NIGHT? "Yeah, I watched it and I feel like I knew a fair bit about the history, just by hanging out with the Wood family the last two years, but I learned more last night. I thought it was pretty neat to kind of put it in Glenn's own words, what he was going through, and it's an hour long episode where they have to try and pack in 70 years worth of history. They didn't cover it all, but they covered a lot of interesting stories."

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Beer/Big Buck Hunter Ford Mustang – "It was a good lap. This is by far the most interesting place that we've gone to as far as what you want as far as downforce, drag and what you need in the car. It's so much different than everything we've ever done here before as far as being wide open through one and two, so there are a number of things that we haven't really wrapped our arms around completely in practice and kind of took a stab at it there for qualifying. We probably knocked some speed out of the car, but in the end I felt like we needed to handle better in race conditions, so hopefully it pays off tomorrow."

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Mustang – "HOW MANY LAPS CAN YOU GO FLAT OUT? "On sticker tires maybe two or three, but you've got to really hustle to do that." THE BRICKYARD IS NEXT WEEK. WHAT DID THAT WIN MEAN TO YOU? "All three of the wins meant something special to me. It started here at Darlington with the heritage of the sport and then moving to Indy and what it meant for Roger Penske and me personally being from the Midwest, and then to win in Vegas to start the Playoffs and Penske's 500th win. That's a heck of a stretech and I'm just really proud of it."

RYAN NEWMAN, No. 6 Oscar Mayer/Velveeta Ford Mustang – "I'm not happy with it because we're not P1, but I felt like I got everything I could as far as driving out of it. It's kind of a crapshoot. We're wide-open from turn four to turn three and however you get through three and four coming to your green and then your time lap is where it's all at. It's my favorite race track. I'm looking forward to the race. I feel like we've got a car that drives fairly good, I just don't know that we have the speed that it takes to be as good as we need to be." 

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – WHO CAME UP WITH THE UNVEIL THROWBACK VIDEO? "It was pretty funny. It was Shell's idea to run the scheme, obviously, and I said, 'You realize that's the car that crashed me in Pocono.' (Laughing) And then the conversation started immediately after about the firesuit, so I asked Brittany and asked if she would do that and she said, 'Hell, yeah.' We thought that was funny. We called Kevin first to make sure that it was OK with him because I didn't want to stir the pot. As much as Kevin and I get along really well now, so he thought it was gonna be really funny, so we did the video to unveil and I will say the first time Brittany aimed those diapers straight at my face. I said, 'Hey, why don't you aim for the shoulder, honey – not the face.' But we both thought it was funny to do, so she'll have the firesuit out tomorrow and probably be sweating in it just like everybody else."

IS THIS RACE ONE OF THE MORE PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY EXHAUSTING RACES? "Both physically and mentally, probably. It's probably a little less physical this year with the added downforce, but still mentally you've got to be hustling. The smartest way you know how and when to hustle all night. It's a mentally tasking race for sure."

HOW WAS YOUR QUALIFYING LAP? "Not fast enough. We're seventh and I'd rather be further ahead. We'll fight from there. I don't see any reason why we can't drive to the front from there. I think we'll be OK. We've had some pretty good runs here in the past recently, so we just have to get through it and be there at the end. We'll be fine."

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang – "After Bristol I haven't really thought about going out and really getting a win, knowing that I don't feel like we've put ourselves in a position at any of the other race tracks to get the job done, but the mile-and-a-half race tracks this year have been better for us than they have in year's past. I've led laps and got some top fives out of it, but I still don't feel like we have the raw speed to go out and do something to win a race like here in Darlington, but you never know. Our car felt pretty good during practice yesterday. It'll be interesting. We were having some tire issues yesterday and hopefully we got that corrected. We kept blowing left-front tires after about 12 laps. We blew three yesterday, so that's not good. Hopefully, we got that figured out, but this is a race track that I definitely enjoy and I've also got myself in trouble at in my Cup career. We finished 12th last year after struggling for three-quarters of the race, so it is a race track where I feel like if you're struggling early you can get it figured out before the end of the race. It's a long race and it should be fun."

DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang – "It's good. The car has been solid the entire weekend. The team has been doing a very good job just making adjustments and making the car better and more comfortable to race. I knew the car was gonna be good for a top five and we were right there, so we just have to be smart and try to keep that track position for tomorrow and it should be a good night."

IT'S A LONG RACE, SO IS KEEPING UP WITH THE TRACK THE KEY TOMORROW NIGHT? "It is a very long race. We have to stay away from the wall and being aggressive and being relaxed. If we have good, clean pit stops, we should be in good shape."

COREY LAJOIE, No. 32 CorvetteParts.net Ford Mustang – YOU HAVE DALE JARRETT'S THROWBACK SCHEME AND WORE HIS DRIVER SUIT YESTERDAY. YOU HAVE EMBRACED THIS RACE. "Yeah, this is one of my favorite weekends of the year, not just because it's throwback but because it's Darlington. Darlington is one of the most unique, most challenging tracks on the schedule, so any time we come here we feel like the driver can make up a little bit more than usual, so it's always fun to come to. We have a pretty decent car this weekend. I think we've got a really good race car. We were a little bit too tight there in q-trim, so I think once the track frees up here later in the night I think we'll be really good. We'll just try to block and tackle and not make any mistakes, try to keep it out of the fence and try to be there at the end."

-XXX-

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2019, Issue 8, Posted 4:17 PM, 08.31.2019