By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
William Byron had just enough fuel to score a top-10 finish at Michigan International Speedway.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver restarted inside the top-10 in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on the edge of the fuel mileage window. Byron battled Kyle Busch, Ryan Preece, as well as his teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver also managed his fuel while battling for position. In doing so, Byron lost positions to Busch and Preece in the closing laps.
However, he picked off Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano as they pitted. Byron also regained positions in the Consumers Energy 400 as Ryan Blaney and Kurt Busch ran out of fuel on the final lap. Byron took the checkered flag in eighth.
“Honestly, I thought we tried a little different approach today and our car was just really hard to handle,” Byron admitted. “We struggled in traffic a lot. But, to come out with a top 10 is good. I feel like we ran in and around there. We just struggled on restarts. But, not bad overall. I think we made up a lot of points. Just kind of needed a couple of different things to play a little bit differently for us to have a better finish.”
The race overall was a complex mix of aerodynamics and handling. Streamlining one resulted in the sacrifice of the other. While Byron’s team had speed, evident in stage finishes of fifth and eighth, he struggled with the handling of the car.
The eighth-place finish is the eighth top-10 for Byron this season and the 12th of his career. It is also a rebound after a failed attempt at on-track payback last weekend at Watkins Glen International left Byron outside the top-20 at the end of the race.
Although the 21-year-old remained 12th in the championship points standings, he increased the gap over the cutoff for the playoffs. Byron increased the gap from 60-points entering Michigan to 83-points at the checkered flag.