CONCORD, N.C. – Coming into the Round of 16 finale of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, William Byron may not be locked in to advance, but he is still in an advantageous position to advance. The 25-year-old driver sits fourth in the standings at plus-41 to the elimination line. 

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Crew chief Rudy Fugle would love to see his driver lock-in midrace with a big number of stage points earned. He feels that scenario allows Byron to be a little extra aggressive for the rest of the race. That said, the team's focus is on making sure they move on to the next round.

"Overall, you really want to win a race, compete up front and build that momentum for the next round," Fugle told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive" this week.  "With that 41 points (the cushion to the elimination line), we just have to not screw up and have anything major happen.

"...We’ve got to be ready to do whatever we’ve got to do to get enough points to move on. Whatever situation we’re in, we’ll go tackle that."

Byron has experienced both sides of the playoff elimination coin in the three years that Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted a playoff race. In 2020, a wreck near the midpoint of the race at the Tennessee short track took him out of the playoffs. His luck turned for the better in 2021 when a third-place finish took him from outside the cutline to advance into the Round of 12. Another third-place run in 2022 secured his spot in the Round of 12 that year and went on to reach the Round of 8 -- the furthest Byron has advanced in the playoffs. 

The back-to-back third-place results at Bristol have come with Fugle atop the box. In fact, the 3.00 average finish at the 0.533-mile track is their best at any venue together in the sport’s top series. Byron’s comfort there with Fugle dates back to his time in NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series in 2016.

"Rudy (Fugle) and I tested there when I was in the (NASCAR CRAFTSMAN) Truck Series," Byron said of Bristol. "Spent a couple of days there (in April 2016). Just having that understanding of what the track is like and what the car needs to do. It’s amazing how those little nuggets along the way in your career will stay with you. Every time we go to Bristol, it seems like we just have that feeling of what the car needs to do and we can achieve that. We have had moments where we don’t qualify that well there but typically in the race we run well."

Inside a race weekend with No. 24 car chief Tyler Jones

In their third year together at the Cup Series level, Fugle and Byron have elevated their game. Entering Saturday’s race, Byron and the No. 24 team lead the series in wins (five) and laps led (877). The No. 24 pit crew of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer), Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer), Ryan Patton (tire carrier) and Landon Walker (fueler) have been the best on pit road all season long. This crew has the fastest average four-tire pit stop at 11.071 seconds.

"They give us a lot of confidence, especially when we are in contention for wins and in contention to run up front," Byron said of the pit crew. "The guys seem to elevate their game when those moments happen. They have been consistent all season."

Saturday’s race will mark the first of two events with Relay Payments on board as the primary sponsor on the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and comes during Truck Driver Appreciation Week. The fintech company that is modernizing payments for the transportation, logistics and supply chain industries has been an associate sponsor since July. 

PHOTOS: See the No. 24 Relay Payments Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Watch Byron drive the No. 24 Relay Payments Chevy as he looks to lock himself into the Round of 12 on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 6:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, NBC Sports App, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).