CONCORD, N.C. -- William Byron is experiencing his best start in his NASCAR Cup Series career. The 23-year-old driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE already has a race win under his belt thanks to his dominating Homestead win and has posted five top 10-finishes in a row.
Byron now sits sixth in the Cup Series standing and is essentially locked into the playoffs. He credited crew chief Rudy Fugle and his teammates at Hendrick Motorsports for helping him secure a top-10 position among all Cup Series drivers.
“To be sixth in points is the highest I’ve ever been in Cup and a lot of that is credited to Rudy and the guys working together,” Byron said on SiriusXM Radio. “We’ve got a great team this year, so I feel like our potential is really high.”
Fugle and Byron were teamed together in 2016 when both were in the NASCAR Truck Series. Last fall, Fugle was tabbed to become the No. 24 team’s new crew chief, making 2021 his first year in the Cup Series. He earned his first win in just three races.
Byron said the team hasn’t really relaxed with its stellar run so far this season. Instead, the group is focusing harder on weeding out small problem areas to make the No. 24 Chevrolet run as smoothly as possible.
“It’s been really good for us,” Byron said. “We had a rough start with the DAYTONA 500 and then we had a decent run going at the (DAYTONA) Road Course and got in a wreck. Since then, we’ve just been really good. Homestead, obviously, was our shining moment with everything going according to plan and winning that race. Ever since then, we’ve been trying to learn the fine-tuned details that we need to run to try and win multiple races. I feel like we’re really close.”
Byron and Fugle were put to the test at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 28. The venue was revamped into a dirt track and hosted the first Cup Series dirt race in 51 years. After bobbing in and out of the top five for the majority of the race, Byron placed sixth at the inaugural event, despite very little dirt experience.
“I was really surprised,” Byron said. “Rudy and I, we both raced Eldora, but this was a totally different animal there. Some things applied (from Eldora) but a lot of things didn’t throughout practice. I didn’t do too well at Eldora but I think the experience I gained over the last few years and the knowledge of race cars, in general, kind of enabled me to do better. I was having a lot of fun.”
During the dirt race, it was announced that Bristol Motor Speedway would host the dirt event again the following spring. While some drivers likely cringed at the news, Byron was excited and is looking at the event as a unique challenge to take on for years to come.
“For me, it was the first time in a while I was able to manipulate the car in so many different ways with the brakes and the throttle. It’s cool to have that much variation in the car,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be another fun event. I think it’s something that’s good for once a year. I wouldn’t want to do it more than once a year, but I think it’s an awesome challenge that really brings out outside your comfort zone.”
As for that infamous photo of Byron with dirt smeared on his face after the race? He blamed ignorance on how he got so dirty.
“I guess I made the cardinal mistake of (opening) my visor before the race was over,” he joked. “Coming to pit road, I had taken the window net down and was talking to my crew. Normally, I open the visor to get some air on my face and kind of cool off as you’re coming down pit road. Everything is really hot and stuffy.
“Anyway, I got a bunch of dust in my face. I didn’t really realize it, subconsciously, and went to talk to Tyler Reddick right after the race. He was like, ‘Dude, your face … you got to take a picture of that.’ It definitely took a while to clean off.”