AUSTIN, Texas – William Byron will start ninth in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro.
He nearly had the pole position in the final round of group qualifying, but his time was disallowed for cutting the course in the esses. AJ Allmendinger got the pole for the 46-lap race.
During a 20-minute practice session at the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course, Byron was second. He has four wins in the Xfinity Series, which all came in his 2017 championship season. The three starts made by the Charlotte, North Carolina, native in 2022 were his first in the series since his title year.
PHOTOS: See the No. 17 Xfinity Series Chevrolet back on track
"It’s just a lot of fun," Byron told FS1 during qualifying of doing double duty this weekend with the Xfinity race and the Cup race at COTA on his schedule. "Thanks to HendrickCars.com and Mr. H and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for letting me come do this. It’s good to get a few more laps in and do some road course racing.
"Certainly want to be better on the (NASCAR) Cup (Series) side in this aspect and just trying to get all the laps we can. Car seems really good so far, just a hair off there of AJ (Allmendinger)."
RELATED: See how Byron fared in NASCAR Cup Series practice
This is the first of four starts that the team will make in the Xfinity Series this season. The entry will also make starts at Sonoma Raceway with Kyle Larson, Watkins Glen International with Alex Bowman and Darlington Raceway with Larson. Ives and Kevin Meendering will oversee the effort with Ives crew chiefing all but the Sonoma race. The organization has one championship and 26 wins in the series with Tony Stewart recording the last victory to date at Daytona International Speedway in 2009. Last year's four races in Xfinity marked the team's first entries in the series in 13 years. In those four starts, the team earned two pole positions, two runner-up finishes and three top-fives.
Strategy always plays a big part in road course races. With stage breaks going away at those races this year – teams will be awarded stage points at a certain lap but the race will remain green - that will be the case even more so.
"You are always hunting for wins, but in the past with the stages, you either pit two or three laps before the end of a stage or you go through to get the stage points," Ives told HendrickMotorsports.com last week. "For us, it is about putting ourselves in a position for the final stage to win the race."
RELATED: Hendrick Motorsports looks to get No. 17 Xfinity entry into victory lane
The No. 17 carries special significance to the Hendrick Motorsports family as it is the same number Ricky Hendrick drove in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series. That number has won 39 times in Xfinity Series history and two of the four drivers to win in it – Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte – would go on to win in the Cup Series with the Rick Hendrick-owned organization.
Tune in on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90) to see Byron and Ives take aim at reaching victory lane.