CONCORD, N.C. -- William Byron may be one of the youngest NASCAR Cup Series drivers on the circuit, but don't mistake his age for inexperience.
The 23-year-old driver is about to embark on his fourth season been behind the wheel of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and now has a Cup Series win under his belt. He cruised into victory lane at Daytona International on Aug. 29 after a thrilling overtime win and won the second Duel during Daytona Speedweeks last season, giving him another victory at the superspeedway.
Part of Byron’s success at Daytona stems from him being more in tune with his No. 24 Chevy. He feels more confident inside his Camaro and is comfortable with new crew chief Rudy Fugle instructing him from the pit box.
“I’m still nervous about going to Daytona like I think you should be every year,” Byron said. “But this year I’m not nervous about the same things. I’m more about how’s the car going to drive and less about the event. For me, it’s all about executing how we should and need to. If we can do all the right things, I think we have the right cars to be capable to go out there and win.”
Byron is taking those strategies heading into Sunday’s race with hopes of using them to win his first DAYTONA 500.
“I think it’s just experience,” Byron said. “As soon as you get on the racetrack and really start racing, some of those things come back to your mind and you remember what it took in the previous races to make those moves or pull off the moves you need to make in the draft.”
Byron’s strategy paid off Wednesday night after he secured the outside pole for the DAYTONA 500. His Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was the car to beat until teammate Alex Bowman took over the top position in the last part of the qualifying session. It marks the second time Bowman and Byron have been on the front row of the DAYTONA 500 together – they accomplished the feat in 2019 when Byron earned the pole and Bowman lined up beside him in second.
“I think we know the preparation the guys do at the shop is just phenomenal,” Byron said. “It’s always exciting to sit in the car for the first time over the offseason and see how much work has been put in, and just how nice the bodies are; how nice the engines are. I feel like more of the same this year and with that comes a little bit more pressure to qualify well, knowing that we have the speed typically to do it.”
Now that Byron is on the front row again for “The Great American Race,” he is focusing on his goals for the race and for the rest of the 2021 season. Being a contender to win every week is a top priority for Byron and Fugle, who will be making his first Cup Series start atop the pit box on Sunday.
“For us, it’s trying to be part of that consistent threat each week. Having Rudy on board is going to make that process really smooth,” Byron said. “We’ve worked together before and we’ve had great success. We’ve really learned a lot while we’ve been away from each other the last few years and been in separate places. I look forward to working with him; I feel like he’s gotten off to a great start.”
Tune in on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on FOX to see Byron on the front row of the DAYTONA 500.