CONCORD, N.C. -- William Byron still is feeling the heat to win races even though he is not being in the Round of 8. The NASCAR Cup Series field is heading to Kansas Speedway this weekend where Byron has had both success and bad luck.
Luckily for the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, the last two trips to Kansas have been on the successful side. Last fall, he finished fifth at the track and he snagged a 10th-place result at the track in July.
“I really look forward to it. I think it’s a great track,” Byron said of Kansas on SiriusXM. “It’s really wide and a lot of different grooves you can run, and I think we saw a great race there in the spring. (I’m) excited for it. I think that the next three tracks are going to be fun for the fans to watch. Martinsville is going to be just chaos and I think it’s going to be exciting. Hopefully we can be ahead of all the chaos.”
The 22-year-old driver could still finish as high as fifth in the final 2020 standings since he did make it into the playoffs. To do that, he needs to win at least one of the final four races.
“It’s definitely a different kind of pressure. You’re doing it for your own reasons,” Byron said. “You don’t really get the publicity or the hype of the points race back there but it is fun. Honestly, for us, it’s just about race wins. … It’s no different being out of the playoffs, but we’ve got four more races to go with Chad Knaus as my crew chief. We’ve had some great success together and I’ve really enjoyed working with him. Hopefully, we can send him out on the right note and get another win, either at Kansas or any of these next four races.”
Like Byron, Knaus is soaking in the last few races of the season. The 49-year-old crew chief will step down from the pit box at the end of the year to take an executive role at Hendrick Motorsports. Before he moves on, Knaus said he has high expectations for his last time at the Kansas track as a crew chief.
“We expect to go get the checkered flag,” he said. "We were just looking at some prior races. We didn’t run really well in the spring where we ran into traffic but boy, we got out front and were super fast and had ourselves in position to win the race at the end of the event.
“Unfortunately, I was not there and helped make a really stupid pit call at the end of the race and threw the race away, so we didn’t get the win. That was bad for me. But last year we ran really well there. We ran top five the whole race, so I have every expectation that we can take the Chevrolet Camaro and go out there and win some races.”
Even though Byron and Knaus won’t be contending for a championship together, Byron said he’s extremely grateful for his time with the seven-time Cup Series champion crew chief. Byron is also proud of how the No. 24 team overcame a shaky first half of 2020 to help him earn his first career win.
“We had a rough start to this year with our luck but we turned it around, got a win and got into the playoffs,” Byron said. “I think it’s been a good experience with (Knaus). He’s grown this team a lot and I’m excited for the next guy who is going to come in and really hit the ground running with what we’ve already produced.”