FORT WORTH, Tex. – William Byron enters the Round of 12 atop the NASCAR Cup Series points standings.
With the field resetting for the next three-race round, Byron’s 36 playoff points shot him to the top. His five wins, eight stage wins and 877 laps led are the best in the series. He is tied with four others, including teammate Kyle Larson, for the most top-10 finishes (15) in the series. The five-person pit crew of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer), Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer), Ryan Patton (tire carrier) and Landon Walker (fueler) have the fastest four-tire pit stop average in the series at 11.011 seconds.
"I definitely think it’s my best chance that I’ve had, so far," Byron said in a pre-practice media availability at Texas Motor Speedway. "I look at being 25 years old – I feel like I have a lot of opportunities at this, so this is a learning experience to see what the pressure is like getting to Phoenix (Raceway). Hopefully, we make it past Martinsville (Speedway) this year. We were close last year and hopefully we just get a little bit closer. I feel like each year has been that steady progression, steady learning curve, so I just want to keep that going and try to make that next step.
"I think it’s a great opportunity. I think our team is probably as good as it’s ever been, so we’re definitely really capable."
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Last year saw Byron make his deepest playoff run yet, reaching the Round of 8 and finishing a career-best sixth in the standings.
The Round of 12 is a tricky challenge for the playoff field, with three distinctive and different venues. The 1.5-mile track of Texas opens the segment, where Byron has one top-five finish and four top-10s in eight starts. He has two consecutive top-10s there. Following that race is the unpredictability of the drafting track of Talladega Superspeedway. Byron finished seventh there in the spring and has two top-five finishes in his 10 other starts at the 2.66-mile track. It is the lone drafting track where he has yet to taste victory. The round closes at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL – another venue that is considered a wild card. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has two top-10 finishes and has led at least 20 laps in three of his five starts.
For the sixth-year Cup Series driver, Talladega is the race that looms large for him in this round.
"I mean Talladega (Superspeedway) has been hit-or-miss for us in the last couple of years," Byron said. "We’ve had solid finishes. We’ve been good at avoiding crashes with my spotter and we’ve been good at managing our way to the front. I think we can get a little bit better at getting some stage points here and there. So I look at that – try to make better decisions. Definitely a lot of studying that’s going to go into this week to figure out what we need to do a little bit better for Talladega, based on Daytona (International Speedway) and Talladega in the spring. I’m a little nervous about that one.
"The (Charlotte) ROVAL, I’m confident in it. I think we’ve always been fast there. It’s always been a good track for me, and just winning Watkins Glen (International), I think we’ve got a good road course feel. We just have to get through Talladega, really."