Byron Sweeps Charlotte Poles in 2019

William Byron's second pole at Charlotte for 2019

(CONCORD, NC – 27 SEP – RIS) William Byron added another first to his racing career by sweeping both NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race poles at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Byron's speeds topped the lists in both qualifying sessions, with a first session lap of 80.901 seconds at 103.237 mph, heading Kyle Larson's best time in the session by 0.049 second. "We've had a good day here at Charlotte," said Byron later. "The first run in practice went pretty smooth. I just kind of had to go back to the bus and think about it, then talk to my guys about it and we did some things to the car. We just made those little improvements that we felt like have led to our success in qualifying. The car has been getting a little better and I've been getting a little better. It just all came together at the same time. I almost messed it up on the last chicane when I locked the tires up, but I knew I had to get in there pretty hard. Fortunately, we came out with the pole and I'm really excited about Sunday now."

Starting next to Byron on Sunday's race on the ROVAL™ will be fellow Hendrick racer Alex Bowman, with a lap time just 0.094 sec slower in the second session. The second session saw speeds slightly slowed, with Byron's 80.932 sec/103.198 mph lap just ahead of Bowman. Kyle Larson was second in the first qualifying session but he "made a mistake and wheel-hopped the car, which made me miss the chicane on the back. We didn't have much time to get in a second lap, but posted a decent time and got a good starting spot for Sunday." The error dropped his lap speed to seventh for the grid.

"It's just having the ability to be close on the car, to just kind of hone in on the little details on the car. We don't really panic a lot when it comes to qualifying. If we're close, we just try and fine tune it. And we do a good job in that space of fine tuning, whether it's me or the car. We ran a 1:21.50 in practice and we knew we had to pick up from that to probably get the pole.  And we were able to go a 1:20.90 or something. In the 600 pole, the team had 80 percent of the effort. This one means a lot for me because I feel like it was a team effort for sure, but you have got to do your homework as a driver, too. I'm proud of that. It shows we can compete at a high level."

In spite of his speed, Byron still had a 'moment' on the track: "Yeah, we're going to have to fix a quarter-panel. I kind of missed that one, but I was trying to get all I could. I knew I was a little bit weak under the brakes the first couple of runs in Q-trim today, so I tried to fix it and maybe fixed it a little bit too good. But, the guys did a great job with this car and it really takes every corner around this race track to get a pole. I knew we could qualify Top 5, but I really wanted the pole and really kind of went out there and got it. So, I'm really proud of this UniFirst team, it's going to be great to start up front."

Monday of race week saw Byron and his coach Max Papis take some extra road racing practice at a local kart track, taking crew chief Chad Knaus with them. "Yeah, for sure Max and I were out at the karting track on Monday and we actually took (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) out there with us, which I think helped. He did a good job. So, I had fun. Road courses were a big struggle for me when I first started racing and it's progressively gotten better and I really enjoy them now. Now it's all about racing and it's good to have two hometown poles."

Following the qualifying runs, IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden – a two-time IndyCar champion – took his IndyCar racer around the 17-turn, 2.28-mile ROVAL™ for six laps as a prize of sorts for making team owner Roger Penske and sponsor Pennzoil the reigning champion car owner and sponsor in IndyCar and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

"It honestly felt really good," Newgarden said. "I didn't know what it was going to feel like. Everything was pretty smooth for the most part. I was most interested in the tire difference. When you run a weekend with multiple series that have multiple tire makes and different cars, normally when you go out after another session you have to have (other cars) clean the track up and I was only one car, so I can't clean the track for myself really fast. I thought there was no issue.

"It felt good. The banking was really neat because the wheel was really, really heavy. We don't have power steering in these vehicles, so it was pretty loaded up for a long time through the banking but there were no problems. I wanted to go fast but not too fast. I think there might've been another second or two in it, but it was one run, so we wanted to take it a little easy."

Following the run, Newgarden met with two of his Team Penske NASCAR counterparts, Joey Logano – the defending champion – and Ryan Blaney, the defending Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 winner, for a quick debrief. Newgarden told media that the ROVAL™ was unlike any track he'd ever driven.

"It's for sure different than anywhere we go," he added. "I wouldn't say it's similar to anything. It's clearly a road course, but it's got some street-course sections to it. Turns 1 and 2 remind me of a street course. You've got the oval, which reminds me a little bit of the Indy GP that we run and then everything else is something new. It didn't remind me of anything as a whole, but it had some characteristics of some places we go.

"It was a blast. The whole point of this was to celebrate with Pennzoil. It's been such a great year for them. … It's really been a cool opportunity they provided. It all originated just to showcase the partnership and the performance they give us, but I think it ended up turning into a really cool discussion point."

"It was cool to see how the car reacted," INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. "This is a great facility. Greg (Walter, the speedway's executive vice president and general manager) does a great job and so does Marcus (Smith, Speedway Motorsports' President and CEO). We do lots of business with them. They're first-class and they do everything right. Even today, the way this was operated and worked, was seamless. The Penske guys did a great job. Josef did a great job."

"We were going to come down and check (the ROVAL™) out. We had not been to see the facility in this configuration, so that was one of the reasons and then this opportunity came into play. Today would be the day to come check it out. Our guys are here and the car was on the track. Obviously today seemed like it was pretty successful, so who knows? All of the Cup guys were out watching the big board. There's interest from the media. There's interest from us. What's next for all of us is something that we're working on. It's great to feel welcomed and wanted here. This is a great facility. Who knows? Lots of things are possible. … There's interest on both sides for what we both do," Frye concluded.

Time Trial Results: 60th Annual Bank of America ROVAL 400: Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course

Track Qualifying Record: Kurt Busch: 09/30/18: 78.1525 sec: 106.868 mph

Qualifying Round 1
Pos, Driver, Car, Time, Speed, Lap #, # Laps, -Fastest, -Next
1) William Byron (P), No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet, 80.901, 103.237, 1, 1, 0.000, 0.000
2) Kyle Larson (P), No. 42 Clover Chevrolet, 80.950, 103.175, 1, 1, 0.049, 0.049
3) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 81.394, 102.612, 1, 1, 0.493, 0.444
4) Clint Bowyer (P), No. 14 Rush/Cummins Ford, 81.426, 102.572, 1, 1, 0.525, 0.032
5) Brad Keselowski (P), No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, 81.495, 102.485, 3, 3, 0.594, 0.069
6) Alex Bowman (P), No. 88 Nationwide Retirement Plans Chevrolet, 81.570, 102.391, 1, 1, 0.669, 0.075
7) Chris Buescher, No. 37 Velveeta Chevrolet, 81.686, 102.245, 3, 3, 0.785, 0.116
8) Joey Logano (P), No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford, 81.712, 102.213, 1, 1, 0.811, 0.026
9) Kevin Harvick (P), No. 4 Jimmy John's Ford, 81.721, 102.201, 3, 3, 0.820, 0.009
10) Martin Truex Jr. (P), No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 81.740, 102.178, 1, 2, 0.839, 0.019
11) Ryan Blaney (P), No. 12 Menards/Duracell Ford, 81.761, 102.151, 1, 2, 0.860, 0.021
12) Paul Menard, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, 81.823, 102.074, 1, 2, 0.922, 0.062
13) Daniel Suarez, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford, 81.920, 101.953, 2, 4, 1.019, 0.097
14) Ryan Preece #, No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 81.928, 101.943, 1, 3, 1.027, 0.008
15) Erik Jones (P), No. 20 Craftsman Toyota, 81.973, 101.887, 1, 3, 1.072, 0.045
16) Aric Almirola (P), No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 81.978, 101.881, 3, 3, 1.077, 0.005
17) Kyle Busch (P), No. 18 M&M's Hazelnut Toyota, 81.986, 101.871, 3, 3, 1.085, 0.008
18) Matt DiBenedetto, No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota, 81.993, 101.862, 1, 3, 1.092, 0.007
19) Chase Elliott (P), No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 82.098, 101.732, 3, 3, 1.197, 0.105
20) Daniel Hemric #, No. 8 Cat Next Gen Excavators Chevrolet, 82.127, 101.696, 3, 5, 1.226, 0.029
21) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 SunnyD Ford, 82.232, 101.566, 3, 3, 1.331, 0.105
22) Michael McDowell, No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, 82.252, 101.542, 3, 3, 1.351, 0.020
23) Kurt Busch (P), No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, 82.317, 101.461, 1, 3, 1.416, 0.065
24) Ryan Newman (P), No. 6 Performance Plus Ford, 82.572, 101.148, 1, 3, 1.671, 0.255
25) Bubba Wallace, No. 43 LeithCars.com Chevrolet, 82.582, 101.136, 3, 3, 1.681, 0.010
26) Corey LaJoie, No. 32 Samaritan's Feet Ford, 82.630, 101.077, 3, 3, 1.729, 0.048
27) David Ragan, No. 38 Citgard Heavy Duty Engine Oil Ford, 83.088, 100.520, 1, 3, 2.187, 0.458
28) Denny Hamlin (P), No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota, 83.099, 100.507, 5, 8, 2.198, 0.011
29) Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO Military Chevrolet, 83.121, 100.480, 1, 4, 2.220, 0.022
30) Austin Dillon, No. 3 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet, 83.232, 100.346, 3, 3, 2.331, 0.111
31) Cody Ware(i), No. 51 Jacob Companies Chevrolet, 84.220, 99.169, 1, 2, 3.319, 0.988
32) Landon Cassill(i), No. 00 Coladka Chevrolet, 84.690, 98.618, 1, 2, 3.789, 0.470
33) *Timmy Hill(i), No. 66 Duracap Asphalt Toyota, 85.315, 97.896, 1, 3, 4.414, 0.625
34) *Josh Bilicki(i), No. 53 AQRE.app Chevrolet, 85.572, 97.602, 1, 2, 4.671, 0.257
35) Garrett Smithley(i), No. 52 Victory Lane/Kendall Oil Ford, 85.782, 97.363, 2, 2, 4.881, 0.210
36) Matt Tifft #, No. 36 Louis Kemp Crab Delights Ford, 0.000, 0.000, 0, 0, -----, -----
37) Ross Chastain(i), No. 15 Empire Auto Group Chevrolet, 0.000, 0.000, 0, 0, -----, -----
38) Reed Sorenson, No. 77 Aquesta Bank Chevrolet, 0.000, 0.000, 0, 0, -----, -----
39) *Joe Nemechek(i), No. 27  Chevrolet, 0.000, 0.000, 0, 0, -----, -----
40) *Parker Kligerman(i), No. 96 TRD 40th Anniversary Toyota, 0.000, 0.000, 0, 0, -----, -----
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie, (*) Required to qualify on time, (P) Playoffs Qualified

Qualifying Round 2
Pos, Driver, Car, Time, Speed, Lap #, # Laps, -Fastest, -Next
1) William Byron (P), No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet, 80.932, 103.198, 1, 1, 0.000, 0.000
2) Alex Bowman (P), No. 88 Nationwide Retirement Plans Chevrolet, 81.026, 103.078, 1, 1, 0.094, 0.094
3) Joey Logano (P), No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford, 81.058, 103.037, 1, 3, 0.126, 0.032
4) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 81.172, 102.893, 1, 1, 0.240, 0.114
5) Clint Bowyer (P), No. 14 Rush/Cummins Ford, 81.215, 102.838, 2, 2, 0.283, 0.043
6) Kevin Harvick (P), No. 4 Jimmy John's Ford, 81.576, 102.383, 1, 1, 0.644, 0.361
7) Kyle Larson (P), No. 42 Clover Chevrolet, 81.595, 102.359, 2, 2, 0.663, 0.019
8) Martin Truex Jr. (P), No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 82.068, 101.769, 1, 1, 1.136, 0.473
9) Ryan Blaney (P), No. 12 Menards/Duracell Ford, 82.094, 101.737, 1, 1, 1.162, 0.026
10) Paul Menard, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, 82.215, 101.587, 1, 1, 1.283, 0.121
11) Brad Keselowski (P), No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, 82.297, 101.486, 1, 1, 1.365, 0.082
12) Chris Buescher, No. 37 Velveeta Chevrolet, 82.327, 101.449, 1, 1, 1.395, 0.030
*Required to qualify on time, OP - Top 30 in Owner Points, PC - Past Champion,(i)Ineligible for driver points in this series

Starting Line Up: 60th Annual Bank of America ROVAL 400
Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course

Track Race Record: Ryan Blaney, 09/30/18, 03:01:34, 82.125 mph

Pos, Driver, Car, Time, Speed
1) William Byron (P), No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet, 80.932 sec, 103.198 moh
2) Alex Bowman (P), No. 88 Nationwide Retirement Plans Chevrolet, 81.026, 103.078
3) Joey Logano (P), No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford, 81.058, 103.037
4) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 81.172, 102.893
5) Clint Bowyer (P), No. 14 Rush/Cummins Ford, 81.215, 102.838
6) Kevin Harvick (P), No. 4 Jimmy John's Ford, 81.576, 102.383
7) Kyle Larson (P), No. 42 Clover Chevrolet, 81.595, 102.359
8) Martin Truex Jr. (P), No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 82.068, 101.769
9) Ryan Blaney (P), No. 12 Menards/Duracell Ford, 82.094, 101.737
10) Paul Menard, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, 82.215, 101.587
11) Brad Keselowski (P), No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, 82.297, 101.486
12) Chris Buescher, No. 37 Velveeta Chevrolet, 82.327, 101.449
13) Daniel Suarez, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford, 81.920, 101.953
14) Ryan Preece #, No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 81.928, 101.943
15) Erik Jones (P), No. 20 Craftsman Toyota, 81.973, 101.887
16) Aric Almirola (P), No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 81.978, 101.881
17) Kyle Busch (P), No. 18 M&M's Hazelnut Toyota, 81.986, 101.871
18) Matt DiBenedetto, No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota, 81.993, 101.862
19) Chase Elliott (P), No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 82.098, 101.732
20) Daniel Hemric #, No. 8 Cat Next Gen Excavators Chevrolet, 82.127, 101.696
21) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 SunnyD Ford, 82.232, 101.566
22) Michael McDowell, No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, 82.252, 101.542
23) Kurt Busch (P), No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, 82.317, 101.461
24) Ryan Newman (P), No. 6 Performance Plus Ford, 82.572, 101.148
25) Bubba Wallace, No. 43 LeithCars.com Chevrolet, 82.582, 101.136
26) Corey LaJoie, No. 32 Samaritan's Feet Ford, 82.630, 101.077
27) David Ragan, No. 38 Citgard Heavy Duty Engine Oil Ford, 83.088, 100.520
28) Denny Hamlin (P), No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota, 83.099, 100.507
29) Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO Military Chevrolet, 83.121, 100.480
30) Austin Dillon, No. 3 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet, 83.232, 100.346
31) Cody Ware(i), No. 51 Jacob Companies Chevrolet, 84.220, 99.169
32) Landon Cassill(i), No. 00 Coladka Chevrolet, 84.690, 98.618
33) Timmy Hill(i), No. 66 Duracap Asphalt Toyota, 85.315, 97.896
34) Josh Bilicki(i), No. 53 AQRE.app Chevrolet, 85.572, 97.602
35) Garrett Smithley(i), No. 52 Victory Lane/Kendall Oil Ford, 85.782, 97.363
36) Matt Tifft #, No. 36 Louis Kemp Crab Delights Ford, 0.000, 0.000
37) Ross Chastain(i), No. 15 Empire Auto Group Chevrolet, 0.000, 0.000
38) Reed Sorenson, No. 77 Aquesta Bank Chevrolet, 0.000, 0.000
39) Joe Nemechek(i), No. 27  Chevrolet, 0.000, 0.000
40) Parker Kligerman(i), No. 96 TRD 40th Anniversary Toyota, 0.000, 0.000
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

RIS Photos by John Davison

John Davison

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

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Volume 2019, Issue 9, Posted 9:10 PM, 09.27.2019