NASCAR CUP SERIES
QUAKER STATE 400
PRESENTED BY WALMART
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JULY 10, 2020
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference and discussed how the season has been thus far, points-racing, the upcoming Kentucky, All-Star, and Texas events, and more. Full Transcript:
AT KENTUCKY THIS WEEKEND, WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST THOUGHTS AND CONCERNS? WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST QUESTION MARKS?
“Really, for us, I just think watching the Xfinity race last night and seeing how dirty the track was. I think, honestly, just kind of watching again tonight, actually, and seeing if the groove widens-out to how we want it to. I think it seemed like the PJ1 was pretty dominant in that upper lane, really just the lane off the bottom, so hopefully the bottom is there for us. I know that we carry more throttle than the Xfinity cars, so I feel like we’re a little less susceptible to the JP1 adding that much grip for us. So, maybe the bottom will have some more grip for us, and we can run side-by-side.”
WHEN YOU’VE HAD TWO XFINITY RACES AND A TRUCK RACE AT A TRACK, WHAT KIND OF A SPECTATOR ARE YOU TO WATCH THOSE RACES? DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO ALL OF THEM? HOW MUCH CAN YOU PICK-UP FROM THEM?
“For me, honestly, I pay attention to them quite a bit. I think there’s a little bit you can take away from both cars. The Xfinity car has less downforce, significantly, than our car. So, typically sometimes they run against the wall at a certain track, we might not be as susceptible to running against the wall to make lap time as they are, but I definitely watch their cars because of the quality of competition to see where they run, what lane works on a restart, and things of that nature. And then, I watch the Trucks because our aero package is probably more similar in some ways to their cars. So, I’m watching what lanes go in the restarts and what lanes get dragged back with side-draft and things of that nature. So, there’s a little bit to learn. It’s definitely cool having them before us on the weekend, especially with no practice. If we’re the first thing on track for that weekend, it’s a little bit concerning just to kind of know what you’re going to do and how you’re going to respond.”
YOU’RE MID-WAY THROUGH YOUR THIRD SEASON AND YOU’VE HAD YOUR SHARE OF SUCCESS ON THE CUP CIRCUIT, BUT A WIN HAS BEEN ILLUSIVE THUS FAR. IS FRUSTRATION BOILING UP AT THIS POINT?
“A little bit. It’s definitely easy to get frustrated with the fact that we haven’t won. I think that at this point, just with our progression we had last year, at this point we would have thought we’d have a few more late-race chances at it. I think we’ve had some cars on some days that were capable of winning. But, to be honest with you, we’ve had six or seven issues this year that have really been no fault of one thing or one individual, but we’ve just as a team, we’ve just not executed in those situations. We’ve had flat tires and different issues. Those were some of our best races and some of our best chances to win and unfortunately, those kind of got washed away for us. But honestly, we just try to continue bringing the same speed and we know if we can bring that same speed that we’ve had on those weekends when things did go wrong, we’ll give ourselves a shot to win. So, yeah, we expect to win. We hope to win soon. We’ve just got to continue to bring the speed to do it and hopefully execute those moments.”
IN WHAT AREA DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS HAVE IMPROVED UPON THE MOST COMPARED TO LAST YEAR? THIS IS YOUR SECOND YEAR WORKING WITH CHAD KNAUS (CREW CHIEF).
“I think honestly, last year towards the end of the year, a lot of the things that we needed to do to run well and compete for wins were there. In some of the performances in the Playoffs I thought we had a very encouraging Playoffs; there were quite a few races there where we were running in the top five or competing very close to the leader, or the top three. I think, going into this year, was kind of more of the same. Unfortunately, when you have adversity, some of those weaknesses and some of those areas to improve are exposed. So, I think we’ve learned through the adversity that we’ve had this year. Our pit crew has improved. I think that was an area that we needed to improve at the beginning of the year, and we made some changes and things to improve that. So, I think we’re there now. We just have to keep ourselves in a good points position and then, get toward the Playoffs and hopefully turn that speed and potential into there so we can maybe go farther than the Round of 12 like we did last year.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON WAS CLEARED TO RACE. WHAT ARE YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS ON HOW QUICKLY HE WAS CLEARED AND IF THAT’S A BIT OF A CONCERN? AND, DOES IT REALLY EVEN MATTER THAT HE IS CLEARED AND BACK BECAUSE THE DRIVERS ARE SO DISTANT AT THE TRACK ANYWAY AND NOT IN CLOSE QUARTERS?
“To be honest with you, no, it doesn’t concern me because of all the protocols that NASCAR has in place. And really, none of us as drivers, are even close to each other. I think what Jimmie’s message was, was just keeping your circle tight and close and following the health and safety protocols that are in place (like) wearing your mask, social distancing, and the things that everyone has told us to do. If you follow those, I think you’re going to be in good shape. So no, for me, I just try to get the right amount of rest and the right amounts of nutritional things that are going to help me be better. And, I’m just trying to stay healthy this way. So, I’m just trying to go out there and do the best I can on the health-side and keep myself in a position where I don’t affect my race team going into this Playoff stretch.”
YOUR TEAM RELEASED YOUR PAINT SCHEME FOR THE ALL-STAR RACE. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NUMBER BEING MOVED? AND, YOU PROBABLY WON’T HAVE THE UNDERGLOW, BUT ARE YOU INTERESTED TO SEE HOW THAT LOOKS IN THE ALL-STAR RACE?
“Yeah, first on the underglow, I think we’re going into the fast and furious and I think maybe we can have some pre-race excitement with that. It should be pretty cool. I think definitely the kids and people my age are going to enjoy that, to be honest with you. It’s going to be something different. So, I’m kind of excited for the underglow idea. As far as the paint schemes go, and as far as our scheme with Axalta, it’s the sea glass that we ran in the Duel and the Daytona 500. We won the Duel, so that was cool. Hopefully it will bring some good luck for us there. It’s different, having the number in that position. I can’t say that I’m really fond of it yet. It’s just such an adjustment for me. I’ve always been used to looking at the number on a race car, especially the No. 24, and seeing it in a certain spot and seeing the paint scheme in a certain way. There’s going to be a lot of adjustment for that. I’m not really sure where that’s going to go after the All-Star race, but it’s worth a shot, I guess. Axalta always brings great paint schemes, given the objective of it, so I’m looking forward to it.”
NASCAR IS NOT TESTING THE DRIVERS. OTHER SPORTS ARE TESTING THEIR ATHLETES. FORMULA 1 IS TESTING ITS DRIVERS. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE NASCAR DO REGULAR, STANDARDIZED TESTING FOR HEALTH CHECKS?
“Well, I think it’s really up to them. It’s really kind of their sandbox, I guess you could say. I really don’t know. It’s our job as drivers to follow their protocols. Yeah, I see other sports doing the testing and I think I’m not honestly educated enough on the testing to know what the right approach is. So, I can’t really speak on that. But I think NASCAR is doing a good job with us. The drivers are doing a good job following, very closely, which is kind of nice because we’re out there to race, not to chat and stuff on the race weekends. So, while we’re there at the race track, we’re kind of in our own bubble, which I think has worked out pretty well.”
WITH 10 RACES TO GO IN THE REGULAR SEASON, HOW MUCH ATTENTION ARE YOU PAYING TO POINTS?
“I brought this up to somebody recently. I think that as a driver, you pay attention to points when you’re not running well and when you don’t feel like you have the car capable and don’t feel like things are going your way, maybe, for whatever reason, if it’s not a great track for you as a driver, you might look at points more so in those weekends. But if you’re running well, and your car is fast and your team is doing what they need to do and you’re doing what you need to do, you’re not really worried about the points. So, after Indianapolis, the speed that we had to win Stage 1 I wasn’t worried. I was just kind of trying to do damage control after the race to see hey, did we lose a lot of points because we crashed. But, fortunately we didn’t, really. I think we’re 14th in the standings. So, if we go to Kentucky and do our jobs and have speed there, I think it will further us from that gap to 16th. You know, it is a little unique this year because you’ve got Daytona as the final race before the Playoffs and anything can happen there. But you probably don’t want to be close to that bubble, but we’re not worried about points. We’re just trying to perform. And we know if we perform how we need to, it’s going to take care of itself.”
WITH THE ALL-STAR RACING MOVING TO BRISTOL THIS YEAR, WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THAT RACE MOVE AROUND TO OTHER VENUES? IF SO, WHICH TRACK WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE NEXT?
“Yeah, I think it’s a great idea. You know, logistically, I don’t really know the rights and the way that things play out as to who has the rights to the All-Star Race, parse, but I think logistically it’s a good idea. Not every track is worthy of an All-Star Race, though. I think there are probably five or six that are definitely worthy in terms of capacity and excitement level of the race track that it generates. Bristol definitely comes to mind. I could think of a road course possibly being very cool for an All-Star Race, just for the way that you can race and the braking zones and passing that might open-up because of it. So yeah, a place like the Roval would be cool, maybe the road course at Daytona might be cool. I just don’t really know. Bristol seems like the perfect place, to be honest.”
IT IS ONE RACE AT A TIME, BUT YOU’VE HAD SOME GREAT SUCCESS AT, WITH A COUPLE OF TOP-10’S AND IF YOU COUNT THE IRACING, A THIRD ONE. HOW MUCH DO YOU ENJOY TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY AND THE EXPERIENCE AT FORT WORTH?
“Texas has been a good track for us. Last year, I think we finished sixth in the first race. We were running really well. I think we were running third and I think we got trapped a lap down in the Fall race. But it’s a good track for us. It’s probably not our best track, but it’s up there. I think it’s just a precision race track. It’s kind of one-groove. It’s widened to two grooves with the PJ1 going down recently. So, I think it’s a strategy race. It’s a restart race. It’s kind of where you’ve got to be on your toes and be able to be efficient with passes and lapped cars and stuff like that because it is kind of narrow. Yeah, I think it’s one that I look forward to. I think we’ll have speed there.”
ON THE FEW OCCASIONS WHERE YOU’VE STARTED TO SEE SOME FANS AT-TRACK, UNLESS SOMETHING CHANGES, THEY’RE GOING TO BE ALLOWED TO HAVE 50% CAPACITY AT TEXAS. HOW NICE WILL IT BE, OR HAS IT BEEN, ON THE OCCASIONS WHEN YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO SEE FANS RETURN TO THE SPORT THEY LOVE?
“Honestly, the two places we’ve had them were Talladega and Homestead. Homestead was not really noticeable, but Talladega, I think there were 5,000 fans there, and it was different (with) the cheers after the race and before the race. Everything of that nature was really cool. So yeah, I think it brought a different atmosphere to Talladega and hopefully that’s similar in Texas. I don’t know how that’s going to be, but hopefully it juices us up a little bit and gives us something to be excited for. It’s been weird before and after when you get out of the car and there’s nothing really going on and it’s dead silent.”
LUCK HAS REALLY NOT BEEN ON YOUR SIDE THIS SEASON. AS A YOUNG DRIVER IN SEARCH FOR YOUR FIRST POINTS-WIN AT THE PREMIER LEVEL, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO TO SHIFT OUT OF THAT BAD-LUCK STATE, WHETHER IT BE PREPARATION OR ROUTINE?
“To be honest, I don’t really think about it that much. When adversity would hit me at the beginning of my career, it really affected me toward the next week and I would really kind of race differently because of it; maybe more conservative or more aggressive, trying to make up for it. Whereas now I feel I just don’t look at it and I don’t really pay attention to the bad fortune that happens. It definitely frustrated me a lot the day of the race, and really maybe even carries over until the next morning, but that’s really it. Once we get past the next morning, it really doesn’t affect me anymore. And that’s been a difference for me. I think that’s just maturity, probably, and the race team and myself. So, yeah, it’s something that you just block out of your mind once it happens, but definitely the most frustrated I am is definitely that night after the race since I’m definitely not a happy camper. So, it just takes time to get over that, but once you do, it’s on to the next week.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 100 countries and selling more than 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.