CONCORD, N.C. -- William Byron is having his best NASCAR Cup Series season to date with his impressive 2021 run. While the 23-year-old driver was knocked out the playoffs after the Round of 12 due to unfortunate and unavoidable incidences, Byron has remained proud of his team as they prepare for this weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway.
The No. 24 crew showed resilience at the Charlotte ROVAL two weeks ago, running out front for 30 laps before he was tapped from behind and he was stalled off the track. Last weekend at Texas, Byron led for more than 50 laps and was on the heels of race leader and teammate Kyle Larson when they crossed the finish line. Byron will use the runner-up result as momentum for this weekend’s race at Kansas.
“I think keep doing what we’re doing. We haven’t had many bad races in a long time,” Byron said. “I think we’ve done a really good job of bringing fast cars, and I feel like every weekend we have a shot to run top five or win. That’s all you can ask for. If you put yourself in that top five, you have a good shot to close out a win. We just got to keep doing that and keep showing up with really good speed. I think these next few tracks are all really good tracks for us.”
In seven Cup starts at Kansas, Byron has one top-five finish and four top-10s with 35 laps led. His best results have come in his last four starts at the track, including his ninth-place finish at Kansas in May and his eighth-place result in the October 2020 playoff race. Byron and his teammates will be studying their recent notes and personal experiences from the venue in order to capitalize on their successful run there over the past couple of seasons.
“I think it’s a momentum track,” he said. “We got to be able to run all the different lanes. The track changes a lot. Usually in the fall, you run the bottom one more than you do in the spring, but both races you have to run all over the track to be successful. I kind of try to get myself comfortable running up against the wall; I try to get back in that mindset of what it takes to run well against the wall, but also how do I put myself in a good position if I have to run the bottom, too.”
After Kansas, Byron will do what he can to win at Martinsville Speedway and then at Phoenix Raceway for the Championship 4 race. The No. 24 driver was fourth at Martinsville in the spring and crossed the finish line eighth at Phoenix in March. Those impressive finishes kickstarted a streak of 11 top-10 finishes in a row – making him the youngest Cup driver to put together such a long streak.
According to Byron, much of his success has to do with first-year Cup Series crew chief Rudy Fugle. The two already had chemistry from Byron’s lone year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016, and their solid relationship has only gotten stronger as Fugle has successfully adapted to crew chiefing in the Cup Series.
“I think Rudy is doing a great job,” Byron said. “First year in the Cup Series is a lot of different challenges. Strategy is one thing that is definitely hard in the Cup Series because there’s so many options. I think he’s just kind of narrowing his focus and continuing to get better. I just see constant improvement from him every weekend. I don’t ever see him take a step back. He’s constantly getting better and he’s bringing some of the fastest cars.”