William Byron needs one more clutch moment after mediocre results in two of three NASCAR Cup Series playoff races in the Round of 16.
The buzzer-beater basket; The go-ahead field goal as time expires; the walk-off home run; These are the clutch moments in sports that are the reason people watch and look forward to seeing.
In the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, 22-year-old William Byron pulled off NASCAR’s version of that moment. Byron entered the race in a tight battle with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto for the final two playoff spots. In Byron’s Daytona clutch moment, he not only advances to the playoffs but he scores his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory.
Byron’s Cup Series Stats and Expectations
2020 marks William Byron’s third full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series. And with strong showings in the NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series, Byron has what many consider, a slow start to his Cup Series career.
Despite his pairing with seven-time champion crew chief Chad Knaus, the Cup stats for Byron show only six top-fives and 21 top-tens before his Daytona win. Coming into the Cup Series, the chatter was about the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro getting hot under Byron’s hand.
Daytona Clutch Victory Brings Momentum
Byron has come a long way to silence his critics and doubters with his Daytona victory. While one win surely doesn’t reverse three years of average performance, what is clear, is that Byron and his No. 24 team were riding with momentum on their side coming into the Cup Series playoffs.
Mediocre Playoff Results
In the next week after the Daytona victory, Bryon has a fifth-place finish in the Southern 500 at Darlington. Along with a weak showing at Richmond, the No. 24 team is now in a bit of cold water cooling their momentum. In the race at Richmond, the team was struggling most of the night. As a result, they now need one more clutch moment at Bristol Motor Speedway to keep their playoff hopes alive.
William Byron Needs One More Clutch Moment
As the first driver below the Round of 12 cut line, Byron is just three points away from the coveted 12th-place position. Also, it’s a mere 12 points separating the tenth place and 14th-place drivers. Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, and Clint Bowyer are above the cut line while William Byron and Cole Custer are below. All five drivers will challenge each other at Bristol – the elimination race for the Round of 12.
One more clutch performance like what Byron was able to deliver at Daytona is exactly what the team needs to get their playoff run back on course for Byron’s first Cup Series championship run.