CONCORD, N.C. – William Byron will aim to join some impressive company this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Byron, who won the spring event at the 1.54-mile track, is looking to become the seventh driver to sweep the season of NASCAR Cup Series races at the Georgia venue. Marvin Panch (1965), Bobby Allison (1972), David Pearson (1973), Bill Elliott (1985 and 1992), Carl Edwards (2005) and Jimmie Johnson (2007) are the others to accomplish that feat.
The 24-year-old driver from Charlotte, North Carolina led a race-high 111 laps at the repaved track for his first victory of 2022.
"I’m excited to go back to Atlanta (Motor Speedway)," Byron said. "I think the track is going to be slicker than the last race there in March. It’s still going to race like a superspeedway race but I think we’re going to be working on the handling of our cars more than we did last time with the heat. I’m honestly interested to see how that plays out and what the conditions end up being like.
"We’ll have to really adapt throughout the race since we have no practice this time. Just like a lot of these weekends this season, we’ll just have to see how it goes once we get there and get on track."
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The forecast for this weekend is calling for temperatures as high as 92 degrees, a significant increase from the usual chilly spring weather in March.
This year’s first Atlanta race was the maiden voyage on the reprofiled track. The banking was increased from 24 degrees to 28 degrees, giving the venue the steepest banking of any intermediate track on the circuit. The track was reduced from 55 feet in the corners to 40 feet with the front straight measuring 52 feet and the backstretch coming in at 42 feet.
Those changes along with the same aero package used for the superspeedway races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway helped to produce pack racing and a track-record 46 lead changes.
Even with emerging victorious in the Peach State, the driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was left surprised by the sheer quickness of how the action developed on the new surface.
"I think no one really predicted just how quickly things were going to happen during the March race," Byron said. Things happened really, really fast on track. Honestly, things happened faster than they do normally at Daytona (International Speedway) or at Talladega (Superspeedway). I think it made it the hardest on the spotters. It was hard for them to communicate fast enough and for them to be able to relay messages fast enough to block runs because it all just happened so quickly.
"It was even more of a 'try and survive to the end' style race and put yourself up front where it’s a little bit calmer and you can control a little bit more. I think that’s really the biggest take away I had from the spring race."
Nearly a month after the race at the 1.54-mile venue, Byron further showed his quick adaption to the superspeedway package by leading a race-high 38 laps at Talladega. While he finished 15th, he did pick up a stage win – one of three he has on the season.
In 2022, Byron was the first driver to score multiple victories in the Next Gen car as he won at Martinsville Speedway just three weeks after his Atlanta triumph. Through 18 races this season, Byron has led a career-best and series-high 570 laps. His 13 playoff points are tied with Ross Chastain and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott for the most earned in the series. Two months ago, the four-time Cup Series winner and 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion inked a contract extension that will keep him with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2025 season.
Cars will first be on track Saturday morning for qualifying at 11:35 a.m. (coverage on the NBC Sports App with USA Network joining in progress at noon ET). The 260-lap, 400-mile race will be on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.