CONCORD, N.C. -- It’s crunch time for Rudy Fugle and the No. 24 team. The newest Hendrick Motorsports crew chief will have his NASCAR Cup Series debut at DAYTONA Speedways in a couple short weeks after reuniting with William Byron during the offseason.
Even though Fugle is new to the Cup Series circuit, his and Byron’s relationship goes back to 2016 when Byron was running in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. The duo was successful together then and Fugle believes Byron’s three seasons in the Cup Series will make their relationship stronger than before.
“His experience level is through the roof since I’ve had him,” Fugle said on SiriusXM Channel 90. “You know, he was running his first mile-and-a-half race, or pretty much his first race other than Loudon at over a mile, when I got him.
“Having a ton of experience at all these racetracks – he’s been in the battles. He’s been in the fights, whether that’s competing for wins in the top five or in the top 10 or competing in the 10-20 range. All those are different battles, and that experience is just great.”
Fugle said even though the pair won seven races in the Truck Series during their year together, Byron wasn’t clear on what he wanted out of his race car. He’s impressed with how focused Byron has become and how in tune he is with his Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE.
“It’s fun to get back to knowing and working with William and how quickly we’re able to reignite that relationship,” Fugle said. “It’s going to be great. I think we’ll be ready to win races with our Axalta Chevy pretty quick.”
Instead of becoming overwhelmed from running 36 races as successfully as possible, Fugle is looking at 2021 in stages. Right now, he’s focused on the first eight races of season before the Easter off weekend at the beginning of April.
“You want to be successful in those first eight races,” Fugle said. “You can have 10th-place cars, get better and finish fifth. You could have race-winning cars every week and do it that way. You just have to find success every week for something to build on. You take that one-week break, you re-group and hit the reset button, then go back and attack the next part of the season.”
Fugle, Byron and the No. 24 team will be in action at Daytona International Speedway starting the week of Feb. 8. Byron will participate in the Clash on Feb. 9 and the Duels on Feb. 11 before hitting the track for the DAYTONA 500 on Feb. 14.