CONCORD, N.C. -- Behind every successful driver is a successful pit crew, and that is no exception with the four Hendrick Motorsports teams. The No. 24 crew and No. 48 team both were firing on all cylinders in Saturday’s Round of 16 cutoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway, where both William Byron and Alex Bowman placed well enough to move on to the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
The No. 24 pit crew had to be flawless as they serviced Byron’s car throughout the race. The 23-year-old driver was 15th in the playoff rankings heading into the event and was 18 points below the bubble. Not only did the No. 24 team execute its stops seamlessly, but Byron was able to edge up a spot or two during every stop under yellow.
“In the past, William has been successful when our backs have been against the wall,” No. 24 fueler Landon Walker said. “When you take that kind of pressure and add it to the already intense environment we’re in, we just rose to the occasion. I think we knew the pit stops had to be on point, no mistakes were obviously a priority because that was going to take him out of it. You take all those factors and really put them in to the way the race went, William just did his job and continuously was able to get track position through pit stops and through his own track performance.
“I think if you put us in that type of situation, we’re going to prevail. We just got to keep that same attitude every week because it’s where we’re at right now.”
No. 24 jackman Spencer Bishop echoed that sentiment, adding that Byron’s speed and doing their jobs properly on pit road culminated in the team’s third-place finish at Bristol. Bishop said that the crew must keep using that mindset for the rest of the seven playoff races.
“That’s one of the silver linings of getting in a hole early. Really, our backs have been against the wall since we wrecked out at Darlington,” Bishop said. “That’s our mentality every race, probably from here on out. Everyone’s chasing that first spot, and Kyle Larson has a pretty good lead. I guess our backs are always against the wall in this scenario.”
While the No. 48 crew didn’t have as tall of an order to complete as their teammates, the group still was on the outside of the playoff bubble looking in heading to Bristol. Bowman was ranked 13th but tied for 12th in points, meaning everyone had to be thorough from the start of the 500-lap race until the very end.
“We had to minimize all the mistakes,” No. 48 tire carrier Allen Stallings said. “Obviously, things can happen that you don’t really expect to happen, and you’re kind of fighting with your back against the wall. It’s like a do-or-die situation – you have to do it. You got to find that dog in you, and that’s what we got to do from this point forward.”
The two Hendrick Motorsports pit crews will head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend to try and recreate their Bristol magic this Sunday. The first race of the Round of 12 will begin at 7 p.m. ET and air on NBCSN.