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June 16, 2024

William Byron nets runner-up finish in pursuit of Iowa win, more consistency

NEWTON, Iowa — William Byron was 0.716 seconds shy of scoring the victory in the NASCAR Cup Series’ inaugural race at Iowa Speedway.

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Instead, his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet had to settle for runner-up on the final rundown, unable to chase down Ryan Blaney for the win in Sunday’s Iowa Corn 350.

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Byron’s performance at the 0.875-mile oval was far more reminiscent of the three wins he’s collected already this season. But it also reflected the team’s recent spat of ups and downs throughout the past month and a half. In a seven-race span that dates back to Dover on April 28, Byron has three finishes of 23rd or worse and three finishes of sixth or better. Sunday’s second-place result marks his best since winning at Martinsville Speedway on April 7.

“Just proud of this team,” Byron told NBC Sports. “You know, we definitely need to put together some consistent runs, and this is a good start. We’d love to be winning tonight, but Ryan and those guys were really good, so congrats to them.”

Unsurprisingly, the No. 24 team — which won this year’s Daytona 500 in addition to races at the Circuit of The Americas and Martinsville — has qualified exceptionally well all season, posting time-trial efforts of 11th or better in six of the last nine weeks. Speed has not been lacking from the crew led by crew chief Rudy Fugle, but hot and cold spells have hindered their landing spot on the results sheets.

“We’ve just got to keep grinding through the weekends and trying to put consistent performances together and get our balance correct and all those things,” said Byron, who qualified fourth for Iowa. “I feel like this was a really good step. We made a lot of improvements throughout the weekend and had a good qualifying effort. Had a couple of things not go away in the race and had to claw back from that, so proud of that.

“We’ve had two bad weeks and, you know, we were really good Charlotte. So it’s just a couple rough ones in terms of results, but this is a good one to put in the numbers bank.”