William Byron advances in Playoffs after solid run

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 29: Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Performance Plus Ford, leads William Byron, driver of the #24 UniFirst Chevrolet, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on September 29, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Compared with teammate Alex Bowman’s stress-laden run to a berth in the Round of 12 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, pole winner William Byron’s path to advancement was relatively pressure free.

Though he surrendered the lead to Kyle Larson with two laps left in the first stage of Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, Byron snagged nine points for finishing second in the stage and spent most of the afternoon solidly in the top 10 before taking the checkered flag in sixth place.

Byron leaves Charlotte tied for 10th in the standings, finishing the race 13 points clear of 13th-place Aric Almirola, one of four drivers eliminated after the first round of the Playoffs.

“Yeah, it feels awesome,” Byron said. “It was a goal accomplished. We had a good car, and we could have gone for more, for sure. But I just wanted to finish the race. I knew we were close on points, so just to finish the race was a goal accomplished.

“A sixth-place finish is good, and we’ll go on to Dover. I know it’s a good track for us.”

Byron will need a strong run at the Monster Mile. He enters the second round with one Playoff point, compared with 46 for top seed Kyle Busch.

Byron, who has five poles to his credit this season, doesn’t plan to change his approach in the Round of 12.

“Same thing—we can continue to do this for sure,” Byron said. “I have to recover from this race, the heat and go to Dover and have a really good race there.”

Greg Engle