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CONCORD, N.C. -- The first race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season still is two months away, but Rudy Fugle has been working hard during the offseason.

The newly named crew chief of the No. 24 team is preparing for his first season in the Cup Series. He said on SiriusXM Radio he feels he is ahead of schedule when it comes to learning the ropes in the highest level of stock-car racing.

“Overall, I think it’s going really well,” Fugle said. “I’m picking up on the (Hendrick Motorsports) way and I’m pretty dang excited about how it’s going.”

Fugle is filling some big shoes. Chad Knaus is moving on to an executive role within Hendrick Motorsports after two seasons with the No. 24 team and 17 seasons as the leader of the No. 48 crew with Jimmie Johnson. Fugle said the organization is run so well he doesn’t feel that he has to revamp the way the No. 24 team operates – he just needs to continue to make improvements where they are needed.

“I’ve just come in and put in my small stamp of effort,” Fugle said. “I’m bringing a different way of looking at things and I’m asking questions that haven’t been asked in a few years because Chad and whomever else have known it, so I can’t tell you that I’ve done it a better way yet.

“But I can tell you I’ve asked questions that haven’t been asked in a long time, and all that does is just brings up new ideas. In the long run, it’s going to make us better when we do need to make adjustments because we got our brains working in different ways.”

Fugle praised Byron for his work ethic and go-getter attitude, which he said the 23-year-old driver had when they were paired together in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in 2016.

“We’ve always had a great relationship, and he’s super excited and full of energy,” Fugle said. “When he comes in or whenever we talk, he’s ready to put the work in. It’s been fun.”

Fugle and Byron will be put to the test on Feb. 9 when they head to Daytona International Speedway to compete in the Clash. Five days later, they will kick off the 2021 Cup Series season at the DAYTONA 500.