CONCORD, N.C. – As the NASCAR Cup Series progresses, William Byron has become more comfortable behind the wheel every week.
Starting Saturday night’s race at Richmond Raceway in ninth, he gained two spots within the first five laps and continued working his way up to finish Stage 1 in fourth. The driver raced as high as third in the middle segment and finished Stage 2 in fifth, but a speeding penalty on pit road before the start of the final segment dropped him to 18th.
“I felt like I was plenty good on my lights, but I just didn’t slow down quick enough for the straightaway,” Byron explained. “You’ve got like two corners on pit road that you can run faster RPM and I just screwed up.”
Though frustrated by the penalty, the setback didn’t stop him from regaining positions. The driver remained poised and returned to the top 10 with under 40 laps to go, moving as high as sixth with 22 laps left.
“Definitely starting to get really comfortable with what is going on,” Byron said. “I’m starting to really figure out what I need to be faster and I think this weekend was a good example of that. Just love coming to short tracks – they are a lot of fun.”
Byron was running inside the top 10 when a caution sent the race to overtime, but he made contact with the wall during a battle with a competitor. He was able to finish the race, but lost ground in overtime to end the day just outside the top 10 in 12th.
“I felt like we ran right around the top 10 all day, so it’s frustrating to know we didn’t get a shot at it and mainly because of the speeding penalty,” Byron said. “Learned from that, but overall just learned the level of aggression the top 10 guys have. I haven’t been around that, so that was something to get used to.”
Though hoping for a top-10 result, Byron was happy with the progress of the No. 24 team.
“Overall, a really good night – we got stage points,” Byron said. “Definitely learned a lot and can just really build on this. I love racing short tracks. It’s a blast.”