NASCAR CUP SERIES
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 2, 2021
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Press Conference Transcript:
HAVE YOU TALKED MUCH WITH RUDY (FUGLE, CREW CHIEF) ABOUT THE STRATEGY AND HOW IT MIGHT CHANGE NOW WITH A WIN?
“We meet on Tuesdays in the morning and mostly talk about the upcoming week. We’ll talk about the previous week if we have anything major, but most of that stuff is talked about Sunday or Monday. For us today, the approach doesn’t really change that much because we know what worked and we know what we want to achieve in our car. Vegas is different than this past weekend but in some ways it’s similar. For us, there might be a little more openness to a two-tire call or a little bit more strategy. But we’re still trying to race as hard as we can and try to win this weekend, as well… work on some pit road stuff on my end and work on some stuff for the pit crew; all those kinds of things we do to try and get better.”
DO YOU LOOK BACK AT LAST SPRING’S LAS VEGAS RACE BECAUSE OF SIMILAR TEMPERATURES OR ARE THERE THINGS TO PULL FROM LAST FALL’S PLAYOFF RACE?
“There are some similarities to last year’s race, but I think the cars have evolved so much since that race. The weather and track trends will be similar to last spring, but the cars and the setups have changed so much since that race. I think we’re really looking more at the fall, looking at what the No. 9 did. He was fast and the No. 88 was pretty fast. We’ll look at what those guys did and try to build around that. We’ll keep up with the trends of the racetrack. The differences in the two races are that the spring has more sunlight but a lower temp, and then the fall has a little more shade but a higher track temp. It’s a little bit of a weird phenomenon there, but I think you focus on the most recent race.”
IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS, HAVE YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF KYLE LARSON, HOW HE DRIVES AND LEARNING MORE ABOUT HIM?
“I’ve been super impressed with Kyle. He’s everything in terms of talent that I thought from watching from afar and having just the little bit of access to his data in the past from CGR. I’m impressed with his honesty and how he’s able to describe the car, be completely blunt and honest about it and not sugar-coat anything good or bad. He tells you how he thinks and how he thought his car is, the strategy or whatever. I like that. It’s making me more open in those competition meetings and making everybody a little more open and less gun-shy.”
WHAT DOES AN EARLY-SEASON WIN MEAN AT THIS POINT?
“It’s huge. I feel like I go to sleep with less stress. I didn’t get a lot of sleep Monday but this past night I went to sleep and woke up with a lot less anxiety. It’s really easy to stress about points during the NASCAR season, and we don’t have to worry about that. We definitely want to try and get in the top-10 in points for the obvious reasons of the bonus points for the playoffs. All of that is still important to us, but you don’t have to worry as much. We’re still going to have bad weeks and bad races, but it makes it a lot easier to go to the racetrack with one goal – to win and try to gather as many points as possible in a good way, not a defensive way.”
FOR ATLANTA, HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN TO FANS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO RACE THERE AND WHY DRIVERS SEEM TO LIKE IT TOO MUCH?
“I think it’s a lot like playing golf at The Masters or something where you understand how hard it is, but that’s what makes it fun. For us, it’s like playing a tough golf course. There are some things about it that you just love the challenge of. It’s so low on grip that I had a flat tire under caution, and I couldn’t feel it because the grip was so low. It’s one of those places where you have to have a lot of trust in your team to give you a good car. I think Rodney (Childers) and Kevin (Harvick) have shown that they have it figured out and know what to look for there. We’re chasing those guys, but it will be fun. I think this year that the track will have some similarities to Homestead, so I’m kind of excited for it. Honestly I’ve never been that excited for Atlanta in a Cup car. It’s just very challenging. So it might be different this year, hopefully.”
WHEN YOU WERE PAIRED WITH RUDY IN THE TRUCKS SERIES, WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF HIM? WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE BOND YOU FORMED THAT ALLOWED YOU PICK UP WHERE YOU LEFT OFF YEARS LATER?
“I think when I worked with him in the Trucks series, I was so young – not that I’m not young now because I get a lot of jokes about it – and naïve in a lot of ways of what racing really was about. I hadn’t raced a car in general for a long time. I think I was like three or four years in and didn’t know what to expect or tell him about the racecar. I could tell him what I felt and the things I thought I needed, and he always listened but always brought some insight himself. He picks up on little things. I think that’s the biggest thing with him… the attention to detail in all aspects. When we got back together this year, we had been away from each other for awhile and both learned from our experiences over the last few years that kind of strengthened us. In a lot of ways, we’re more technical now than we were back in the trucks.”
WITH A WIN ALREADY, DO YOU THINK ABOUT MULTIPLE WINS? HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT AND IS THAT SOMETHING THAT IS HIGH UP ON THE LIST THAT YOU HAVE TO DO?
“I think there was more pressure from a ‘one-race wonder’ type feeling from the first one to the second. That’s more of what I was referring to (Sunday night) because I feel like the first win is always the monkey-off-your-back. Everyone says that, but they don’t get any easier at all. I think that taste and that drive to win is there after the first one for me, which is what I noticed. Going throughout the year, you hope you can get multiple wins. That would be a phenomenal season. There aren’t many guys that do that… I think the top six or seven guys. That’s our goal. I said during the offseason that it was to be in that top-six to eight guys that can win every week. We have a lot of work to do to get to that point. It’s a good start, and we’re ahead of schedule. There are a lot of good tracks for us, so we have to see how the year goes.”
COMING UP TO BRISTOL, YOUR NEW TEAMMATE KYLE HAS SIGNED UP TO RACE THE MODIFIED RACE THE WEEKEND BEFORE. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU’RE LOOKING AT DOING OR THINKING ABOUT?
“I’m going to run a dirt car by myself at a test. I can’t say I’m going to be very good. Rudy and I joke a lot about how Eldora went for me. I’m not excited about the dirt race. There’s definitely less stress for me after the win. We’ll see how it goes. I feel like the best thing for me to do is to show up, put in a good effort and try to learn as much as I can throughout the weekend. For somebody like Kyle, he really enjoys it and can be competitive. For someone like me going in a dirt car and racing a bunch of guys that race every week is probably not the smartest decision. We’ll see. I’ll see how this dirt test goes and hopefully it goes pretty well. Maybe we can finish in the top-15; that’s kind of the goal right now.”
WHERE IS THAT DIRT TEST, AND HOW MUCH ARE YOU WILLING TO LEAN ON KYLE FOR ADVICE?
“I don’t know where the test will be. It’s a dirt car that one of the guys who works at HMS in the fab shop has. I’m going to go with him and test, and hopefully he can teach me some things. I’ll try to pick Kyle’s brain as much as possible. I’ve had Christopher Bell as a teammate in the past, and he was very helpful. It’s just a matter of doing it, and that’s the hard part.”
RUDY WAS ASKED SUNDAY ABOUT HOW SIMILAR THE 550-HP PACKAGE THE CUP CARS IS COMPARED TO WHAT THE TRUCKS HAVE HAD THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS. HOW DO YOU SEE THAT?
“It’s very fitting for his style. Rudy has done a lot of different kinds of racing. He’s very versatile. He’s done a lot of Super Late Model races with Kyle. I’ll be honest, I don’t think we would struggle at any track. He would do well with the low-downforce package. It does suit his style or background. He can take some of the things comments that I used to make and Kyle used to make about the trucks and take that into account when he’s making decisions.”
WHEN YOU AND RUDY WON IN TRUCKS AT HOMESTEAD IN 2016, WAS THERE ANYTHING YOU TOOK AWAY FROM THERE THAT YOU USED SUNDAY FOR THE WIN?
“Not really. It’s a totally different car. In terms of the track, I took some things from my Xfinity days when the race went day to night, and some of that stuff kind of comes back to you but it’s a few years ago.”
YOU WENT TO THE CHILI BOWL THIS PAST YEAR. WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS?
“I loved it. I had probably the best opportunity to watch it with Jeff Gordon. I talked to Christopher (Bell) quite a bit, Alex (Bowman) a little bit and Kyle (Larson) quite a bit. Those guys are just really cool to talk to about dirt racing. Not that any of the dirt racing makes sense to me, but watching them really helped it make sense with some of the things they were doing. It was just really cool to see in person and see some of the things they are able to do with their cars. You watch Kyle and Christopher, and they are in a different zip code of how they can adapt and learn each lap during the feature. The cool part for me was seeing how they separated themselves in the race. Seeing Christopher go for it at the end was pretty fun.”
COULD YOU SEE YOURSELF GETTING INTO MIDGET CARS AT SOME POINT?
“For sure. I think it would be different driving a proper dirt car and seeing how that feels. They look really fun to drive. I hate to compare it to this, but I think Legends cars have some similarities on asphalt. In terms of the distance from the wheels, I think I’d feel pretty comfortable because of my Legends cars background. I could see it being fun.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE YOUNG GUY MOVEMENT THAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW? IT’S KIND OF BEEN ALL OVER THE PLACE SINCE THE START OF THE SEASON.
“It’s kind of a product of the racetracks, the variety there and not having practice. Someone asked me whether experience pays off. I think with no practice, there is a little more parity throughout the field. I don’t know exactly what it is. There are plenty of guys like (Martin) Truex Jr. and (Kevin) Harvick who were all really fast this weekend. You’ll see those guys prevail as the season goes along. They communicate well with their teams, they get the cars to do what they need to do. Hopefully we are a part of that. That is our goal… to continue to be like those guys. We have to keep working at it.”
WHAT IS THE TEAM COMMERADERIE LIKE BETWEEN ALL OF YOU BEING IN YOUR TWENTIES?
“Very productive. Kyle is very involved. Everyone has been open and everyone has been running well. There isn’t a weak link by any means. We’re all kind of up there in the points and running well. The goal is for everyone to win a race here soon. Everything is going pretty great.”
IS THIS RACE AT LAS VEGAS ONE YOU LOOK FORWARD TO?
“Yes and no. I feel like it’s usually the first gauge of what speed you have. But that was Homestead this weekend, and Homestead kind of took the place of Atlanta. We used to go to Atlanta for the first real race of the season and you figured out what kind of downforce you had and how good your car was. Now we went to Homestead, and I feel like we performed better than we expected to. I feel pretty confident for this weekend but you never really know how things are going to go.”
LOOKING BACK AT SUNDAY, HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO HAVE A SOLID RESTART WITH THE LONG GREEN-FLAG RUNS?
“Really important. Even though my car was really good, you have to try and capitalize early. It makes it that much harder to pass each guy as you get through the field. If I hadn’t gotten a good restart, I think I would have been mired in around third or fifth and maybe gotten to the lead later. But then (Tyler) Reddick would have been coming hard. That cushion and gap we were able to build after we got the lead was big for us to be able to manage our tires.”
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