PENSACOLA, Fla. – William Byron gave it everything he had in Sunday’s Snowball Derby and earned a sixth-place finish coming at Five Flags Speedway.
Byron spent much of the afternoon running in the top five, but a little bit of trouble on the final restart saw him slip to sixth. Derek Thorn won the 55th running of the event in Pensacola, Florida.
The sixth-place result marks his best finish in three career Snowball Derbys. He finished eighth in 2015. In 2016, he won the pole before an accident led to a 22nd-place finish in 2016.
The 25-year-old started the race from the 13th position and wasted no time jumping into the top 10. Around the one-third mark of the race, he was in the top five and climbed to second just past the halfway mark of the scheduled 300-lapper that ended up going 318 laps.
RELATED: Two wins, Round of 8 appearance propel Byron
Byron won six Super Late Model events this year with Wilson Motorsports, who fielded his No. 24 entry for the 2022 Snowball Derby. Earlier in the week, he discussed how much fun he had running at the grassroots level on asphalt tracks.
"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."
Byron was joined by some familiar faces for this weekend's effort. His NASCAR Cup Series crew chief Rudy Fugle was atop the box and spotter Branden Lines was over the radio providing guidance during the event. Four mechanics from the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team were on site as well.
"I pushed him really hard since we joined back up together to race more," Fugle told HendrickMotorsports.com last week. "Whatever he wanted to race. ... I told him that I thought racing more would not only be good for his skill set and his career but doing this at this level, it reminds you of why you love doing what you are doing. I think he has found that this year."
The Charlotte, North Carolina, native mentioned that running these extra races has also been a benefit to his Cup Series efforts. In 2022, Byron enjoyed his first multi-win season at the Cup level, reached the Round of 8 for the first time and finished a career-best sixth in the final standings.
"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."
RACING AMERICA: More coverage of the Snowball Derby