DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – William Byron has already taken the rookie stripes off his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The reigning rookie of the year is full-speed ahead into his sophomore season.
Entering his second year in the NASCAR Cup Series, Byron has already noticed a bit of a transformation.
“It's a lot different just because I don't have to go through everything for the first time,” the driver said. “I know my way around the racetrack, kind of know my way around on and off the track. It definitely takes a lot of the pressure off, a lot of the edge off last year. I can just go out there and focus on racing.”
Even after a 2018 performance was enough to earn him rookie of the year honors, Byron isn’t interested in looking in the rear-view mirror. He’s approaching 2019 as a completely fresh start.
“Honestly, there's not really a lot that's similar to last year with us, besides the number and the way the car looks,” he said.
With a new crew chief in seven-time champion Chad Knaus and a new outlook on the season, Byron and the No. 24 team are ready to find Victory Lane.
The season started on a high note when Byron became the second-youngest pole-winner in Daytona 500 history.
“We've taken a no-holds-barred approach this year of trying to go out there and take names and win races,” the driver said. “I think that mentality will continue for us. We're looking forward to that.”
Byron and the entire No. 24 team have high expectations for the season, particularly working with such an iconic car number.
“We want to win races,” Byron said. “There's a lot of things that we aspire to do this year. I think just one of those things is kind of bringing the No. 24 car back to the legacy that it has. We've got a lot of potential to do that. We just got to go out there and capitalize on that. It's going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication and a lot of smart decisions. That's what I'm looking forward to the most.”
The Daytona 500 pole-sitter is able to celebrate the accomplishment for a week before “The Great American Race” gets underway.
“First accomplishment for us for the year,” Byron said. “We’ve got a lot of things we want to do this year. First one to check off the list is good.”
Now, he’s ready to get the season truly started on Sunday.
“I'm tired of talking about it – I just want to go race,” he said. “Can't wait to get into the car.”
Tune into the Daytona 500 this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.