CONCORD, N.C. -- William Byron will have a full-circle moment on Saturday when he returns to Daytona International Speedway on Saturday for the final race of the regular season.
The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE won his first NASCAR Cup Series race one year ago at “The World Center of Racing” after he led 24 laps to take the checkered flag. Since then, Byron has won another race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and has posted nine top-five finishes and 16 top-10s in 2021 – both Cup career bests. Those strong finishes have contributed to Byron entering Daytona fourth in the rankings, which takes the edge off of trying to secure a playoff berth.
“I am going to have a whole new perspective on that race,” Byron said. “I think last year, every moment of the race was critical; the pit cycles, where you were on track. This year, we will just go out there and try to have fun, get ready for the playoffs and try to have a good finish to start up front next week.”
Byron is in a good position to become a back-to-back winner at Daytona. Due to his second-place finish at Michigan International Speedway, he will be starting on the front row in second place for the summer Daytona race. The 23-year-old driver will be competitive, as always, but he appreciates that he won’t be battling a teammate for a playoff spot this season.
“I don’t have a lot of pressure there this year,” Byron said. “Last year, I was right on the bubble. At one point in the playoffs and another point out. Jimmie (Johnson) and I having to race for that final spot there was tense but this year I can just go and watch all those other guys have to race for it.”
While Byron has become seasoned at the Daytona Cup Series races, No. 24 crew chief Rudy Fugle will be returning to the Florida oval for just the second time in the highest level of stock car racing. Fugle and Byron recorded a 26th-place finish at the DAYTONA 500 earlier this year after Byron was caught up in an early accident. However, the duo rebounded at Talladega Superspeedway in April after Byron posted a runner-up result.
“We need to just try to be in the right place at the right time and just be aggressive,” Byron said of his and Fugle’s strategy. “It’s a lot about blocking and figuring out how to be in the right position, the right lanes. We need to do all the things we do at the superspeedways that you just try to focus on before you go there with your spotter, probably more so than with your crew chief.”
Byron and the rest of the No. 24 team will take on final race of the 2021 regular season this Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on NBC.