CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday at Kansas Speedway, William Byron and the No. 24 team raced their way to a fourth top-five finish of the season, taking the checkered flag in fifth.
Despite the strong finish, the sophomore driver was not able to advance to the Round of 8, bringing his first-ever Cup Series playoff run to a close.
“It’s just a bummer,” Byron said. “But we had a great run today and we can take pride in that, for sure. We had a great car, one of the best cars we’ve had on a 1.5-mile track. It was fun, but we just needed to win, and we couldn’t do that. But it is what it is. It was a great day for us overall, we’ll move onto the next couple of weeks and keep fighting. If we can go out and win, that’s all that really matters now.”
After the checkered flag waved, Byron couldn’t help but think back to last season when he fell short of the playoffs in his Rookie of the Year campaign. He finished 38th in the playoff race at Kansas a year ago, and he’s proud of all the No. 24 team’s hard work in the year since.
“Last year was no fun and this year has come a long way for me and my team,” the driver said. “It’s been a lot of fun. Last year, I blew up here 60 laps in. This year, finishing fifth is great. We came close and I think we could have finished second or third. But overall it was a great day.”
With four races remaining in the season, Byron and the No. 24 team still have the opportunity to claim the 21-year-old’s first Cup Series victory, and they have an opportunity to continue to move up in the final season standings. Both of those are goals at the forefront of the team’s mind.
“I think we can still further our position in points, which is awesome,” he said. “Really, for us to make that next step, we have to compete for wins. We’re getting close, we’re running in the top five and that’s great. We just have to make that next step and I think we’re really close.”
As the NASCAR schedule heads to Martinsville Speedway this weekend, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native hopes the No. 24 team can continue build on its recent success and make strides toward the driver’s first win.
“I feel like we are finally starting to get that little extra bit that we need,” he said. “I wish it could have been a little sooner in the year, but I think we’re really making some good progress and that’s exciting.”