CONCORD, N.C. – William Byron will look to continue that fun feeling in Sunday’s Snowball Derby.
The recently turned 25-year-old (his birthday was on Tuesday) won six events this year with Wilson Motorsports, including the famed Slinger Nationals and remarked about how much fun he has had running at the grassroots level on asphalt tracks. Wilson Motorsports will be fielding the No. 24 entry in this event as well.
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"I just really like those cars," Byron said during a media availability as part of Champion’s Week. "I really like the speed of them and the horsepower. They are pretty lightweight and then the competition is good. There’s a lot of guys I am not used to racing. I enjoy the fact that it’s something different that I don’t always get the chance to do."
The Charlotte, North Carolina, native noted that running these extra races has also been a benefit to his NASCAR Cup Series efforts with Hendrick Motorsports.
"As I got going in it, I realized how productive it was for me to do it and how much I was learning," Byron said. "As I did it more often throughout the season, I learned little nuances that were helping me that were helping me get back in the Cup car with a better skill set.
"Everyone talks about if you go out and win, it’s a big confidence boost. It is, but there’s also a true technical side of it. There were things that I felt like I was applying from some of the races I did. That could be Xfinity, Trucks, the Super Late Model, but I felt like all of it was making me a better driver."
This weekend’s 300-lapper at half-mile Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida is considered by many to be the biggest short-track race in the country. Byron will be joined by his Cup Series crew chief Rudy Fugle, spotter Branden Lines and four mechanics from the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet team.
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"I think it’s great to be around those tracks and bridge the gap between local short-track racing and national stuff," Byron said. "It’s just as competitive there as it is for us on the NASCAR side and I really enjoy it."
This year’s event will see several of Byron’s Cup Series competitors - Jones, Brad Keselowski and Noah Gragson - taking part as well as a host of short-track aces and late model standouts from across the country.
Byron has previously competed in the Snowball Derby twice. He finished eighth in 2015 and finished 22nd in 2016 after an accident ended the polesitter’s day.
His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott won the event twice with his 2011 victory making him the youngest Snowball Derby winner in the event’s history. Kyle Busch has also won this event twice and Fugle was the crew chief for his 2017 triumph.
Byron will be on track with practice and qualifying taking place on Friday, Dec. 2. There was a practice session on Thursday, Dec. 1, but Byron noted that no one was going to shake down the car until he got there following Thursday's NASCAR Awards. Another practice and the last-chance qualifier will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3. The main event takes place on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT.