CONCORD, N.C. – Everything came together for William Byron and the No. 24 RaptorTough.com team in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. Building off of a run to the Round of 8 in the 2022 playoffs, the 25-year-old driver and his team kicked things up a notch.
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Byron posted career-high totals in wins (six), top-five finishes (15), top-10s (21), laps led (1,016), average finish (11.0), standings position (third) and stage wins (nine). He led all Cup Series drivers in 2023 in wins, top-10 finishes, average finish and stage wins, while tying for the lead in top-fives. The past season served notice that Byron isn’t just an emerging talent in the series, his time has arrived.
Byron earned his first two wins of the season during the West Coast swing in March with victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. The strength of the No. 24 pit crew was on display from the start as crew chief Rudy Fugle’s successive two-tire calls for overtime finishes in those races set up his driver to restart from the front row. From there, Byron capitalized to earn his first set of back-to-back wins as a Cup Series driver.
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The spring saw him in the mix for several wins, but it was the throwback race weekend at Darlington Raceway where he would be victorious next. The win marked the 100th for the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet and Byron would continue to add to the legendary car’s legacy throughout the year. At Atlanta Motor Speedway in July, an early incident put Fugle on the path to an alternate strategy especially with weather looming. The gambit paid off as Byron got the lead on lap 167 and never let it go as the race was called for weather after 185 laps.
Following his fourth win of the season, Byron made his 200th career Cup Series start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The team went into a bit of a summer swoon but snapped out of the slump in a big way at Watkins Glen International. Qualifying second and leading 66 laps, Byron dominated the race for his first road course win in the Cup Series. That win gave the team a big shot of momentum heading into the playoffs, where Byron was atop the standings.
PHOTOS: Every win for the No. 24 | See all of Byron's wins at Hendrick Motorsports
The No. 24 team had a steady Round of 16 to advance on and shined in the Round of 12. Byron opened the Round of 12 with a win at Texas Motor Speedway. Not only did the victory push him to the next round, but it was also the landmark 300th Cup Series win for Hendrick Motorsports. He followed that up with runner-up finishes at Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL to post an incredible 1.7 average finish in the Round of 12.
Despite some tense moments in the Round of 8 finale at Martinsville Speedway, Byron would do enough to reach the Championship 4 for the first time in his career. At Phoenix, he qualified in the pole position for the championship race. From there, he led 95 laps on the day and held the championship lead for 205 of the 312 laps. Unfortunately, when the checkered flag flew, Byron was third among the Championship 4 drivers.
The strength of the full No. 24 team contributed greatly to the team’s success. The pit crew of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer), Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer), Ryan Patton (tire carrier) and Landon Walker (fueler) had the fastest four-tire pit stop average in the series at 10.934 seconds. The Fugle-led team has gelled well under his leadership and has the most wins in the Next Gen era (since 2022) with eight victories.
ON THE ROAD: Inside the No. 24 pit crew's preparation and top moments of 2023
Off the track, the 2023 William Byron Charity Golf Event helped to raise over $233,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Central Carolinas. Byron's annual golf event has benefitted BBBS, which has helped children realize their potential and build their futures in this region since 1972.
2023 SEASON STATS FOR BYRON
Wins: 6 (led series)
Top fives: 15 (tied for the series lead)
Top 10s: 21 (led series)
Stage wins: 9 (led series)
Laps led: 1,016
Average finish: 11.0 (led series)
Standings position: Third
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Team owner Rick Hendrick on William Byron’s growth as a racer:
"When I watch William (Byron) and how much he’s grown, look at the fact that he has won six races – more than anybody out there. He and Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) are just an unbelievable team. I just can’t believe that is the little guy I used to see at JRM (JR Motorsports, the NASCAR Xfinity Series affiliate of Hendrick Motorsports) playing video games and driving a truck. He won the Xfinity championship (in 2017). What an awesome individual he is and he is showing he has a tremendous amount of talent. I think he’s going to win lots of championships."
William Byron on his 2023 season:
"We had a great season. A lot to be proud of. A lot of really solid races. Communicating well as a team. I feel like all that stuff can just go up a notch."
Following his Round of 8 appearance in 2022, Byron took a major step forward in 2023 with a career-high in wins and laps led as well as his first Championship 4 appearance. The No. 24 team as a whole blossomed into a force. The pit crew is one of the best on pit road and the Byron-Fugle pairing has a chemistry that is hard to replicate. All the pieces are there for sustained and prolonged success.
The 25-year-old driver has been open that he believes this team is going to have more shots at the championship. With the year he is coming off of, multi-win seasons, deep playoff runs and title contention are the expectations. His rate of growth would indicate that his first Cup Series championship is around the corner.