CHEVY NCS AT KANSAS 1: William Byron Press Conf. Transcript

NASCAR CUP SERIES
KANSAS SPEEDWAY
BUSCHY MCBUSCH RACE 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 28, 2021

WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Teleconference Transcript:

YOU MUST BE CARRYING CONFIDENCE COMING INTO KANSAS. IS THAT MORE FROM THE EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD IN THE PAST FEW SEASONS, OR THE CHEMISTRY WITH YOUR CREW CHIEF AND TEAM, OR SOMETHING WITH THE CAR?
“I think it’s honestly, the last few weeks have just been the result of just the chemistry we have and working really well together. I feel like we’re all on the same page. We’re also getting really fast cars from the shop, which Chad’s work and everybody at the shop. The engines have been really good I’d say since probably the second half of last year. So, all those things have played a role. But I think for use, we’re going into some of these tracks that are some of our best tracks. I feel really confident that Kansas is a place we can go there and try to win. I think we’ve gotten through a couple of obstacles with the Bristol Dirt Race; that was definitely one that we thought we were going to really struggle, and at Talladega and Richmond. So, we’ve kind of gotten through those.”

WITH THIS STREAK THAT YOU’RE ON, YOU ARE THE LEADING HENDRICK GUY RIGHT NOW AND MAYBE THE LEADING CHEVROLET GUY. SHOULD THE CUP SERIES AND MEDIA BE TAKING YOU GUYS MORE SERIOUSLY RIGHT NOW AND GIVING YOU A LITTLE MORE ATTENTION?
“Yeah, I think yes and no. As soon as we win another race, hopefully soon, you guys will be forced to talk about us, and the competition will be forced to deal with us. But I think we’re running well. We’re in the mix every week. I feel like the competition around us probably knows that and understands that. So, I think it’s just a matter of continuing to execute, and put ourselves in position to make ourselves have a chance at winning more races. Honestly, I don’t focus much on the other people we are racing against. I just focus on doing what we can to try to win. We’re doing that every week so far.”

WHAT DOES THAT CONSISTENCY DO FOR YOU? WHAT DOES THAT CHANGE FOR YOU GOING TO THE RACE TRACK EVERY WEEK WITH A CAR THAT’S GOING TO BE A CONTENDER?
“I think it’s confidence. I show up to the track every week now knowing that I can prepare the way that I have been and have success. So honestly, just keep preparing the way that I’ve been doing it. A little bit of iRacing, a little bit of film and talking with my guys. We have great meetings throughout the week. So, we’ve got a really good system going. I feel like we’re able to go to every race track and kind of build on what we’ve been doing.”

THIS HAS BEEN YOUR BEST START TO A SEASON BY FAR IN THE CUP SERIES. WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS IMPROVED THAT HAS LED TO THIS CURRENT STREAK OF TOP 10’S?
“It’s been everything like I’ve said. I think it’s communication, chemistry, and the fact that we’re getting good cars from the shop. It’s really important. You can’t overlook that. You’re only as good, really, as the speed of your car. The effort that goes into that is tremendous. I feel like yeah, it’s just really everything. There’s not just one thing that sticks out at me. We’ve worked on the pit crew. We’ve worked on my communication with my spotter, and communication with Rudy (Fugle, crew chief). It’s kind of everything. Everything is going better this year.”

WHAT IS IT THAT YOU LIKE ABOUT KANSAS? IS IT MULTIPLE GROOVES OR THIS PACKAGE?
“I think it’s just a track that I have good memories on. It’s a track that’s pretty straightforward. It’s not one of those unique places where experience really matters. I think it’s just all about having the right combination with your car and having the right feel. So, I think it’s just one of those standard 1.5-mile tracks. It’s not anything special but I feel like we’ve done a good job of trying to identify what we need in the car there and it’s worked the past couple of times.”

THIS HOT STREAK DATES BACK TO LAST SEASON. YOU PERFORMED PRETTY WELL DURING THE PLAYOFFS. WAS THERE ANY SINGLE LIKE AHA MOMENT WHERE YOU REALIZED YOU TURNED A CORNER, OR YOUR TEAM HAD; AND THAT YOU GUYS HAD IT AND YOU WERE READY TO BUILD ON THIS MOMENTUM AND WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?
“Gosh, I think honestly, there’s not really a specific turning point. I think we’ve really relied heavily on our teammates. Chase (Elliott) has run really well over the past six or seven months and winning the championship and all that. We’ve relied heavily on some of their set-ups and some of the things that Chase says; trying to get my driving style a little bit closer to what the set-up needs and the car needs. It’s a little bit of everything like I said. I don’t think it’s one specific turning point. But we continue to bring more speed to the track and we’ve kind of found a good set-up for a lot of these places.”

IT SOUNDS LIKE CHASE ELLIOTT IS A BIT OF A MENTOR TO YOU. WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE HE’S GIVEN YOU DURING YOUR TIME TOGETHER AT HENDRICK THUS FAR?
“Well, I think he just does a good job. He does a really good job with the details. He and Alan (Gustafson) have kind of been the standard at Hendrick for three years now. So, they are kind of the benchmark that we’ve all had to chase. I feel like I touched on that going into this season with the fact that those guys are the standard. And so, we’ve got to try to match that standard or try to improve upon it. And, we have a lot of respect for those guys and their effort and the way that they execute races, the way that Chase drives, and all those things. So, we try to work on that and make it our own.”

YOU MAKE IT SOUND SO EASY INCLUDING THE WAY YOU’RE RUNNING RIGHT NOW AND THE THINGS YOU’VE TACKLED. WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING OF ALL OF IT FOR YOU?
“Well, I think the hard part was just learning the Cup Series. I’d say for two years, I really felt out of the box. I felt uncomfortable I guess, in a way. I kind of felt like in order to produce the results and be up front, I had to really drive kind of over your head in a way. You notice that with a lot of the rookies. It’s so tough, the transition from Xfinity to Cup. I don’t think anyone really can quantify that. So, I think there were, in a way, some unnecessary standards kind of put on me when I got to Cup to perform a certain way; because of how I had quickly kind of ascended. But none of that really mattered once I got to Cup because I almost had to relearn a lot of things which, I feel like is similar for anyone who comes in, I’d say in the modern day racing and how it is now with less practice and really smart engineers and all those things. I think that’s the biggest challenge I had.”

SO NOW, WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE GARAGE, EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE VERY YOUNG, DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS IS MY PLACE AND DO YOU FEEL MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE WITH EVERYTHING BEING THROWN AT YOU NOW?
“Yeah, I don’t feel uncomfortable at all. I don’t look at any of the people I race against as any different. I treat everyone the same I feel like now. Whereas, when I was coming into the series, guys like Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick; I raced for Kyle Busch, so that was nerve-wracking to race against him every week. And those things were there and those elements of feeling like I was out of place were there. Once you get past that feeling, which, you have to have those results to have that feeling go away, so it comes hand-in-hand with results.”

KANSAS SPEEDWAY IS STARTING TO DEVELOP SOME CHARACTER. HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY DIFFERENCE IN RECENT YEARS AND WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE FOR SUNDAY?
“I think it’s just now getting optimal. It’s amazing it takes that many years, but yeah, Kansas is just now becoming a really good character race track that is challenging for the drivers and for the crew chief to have the right set-up and changes throughout the race and all those things that you want in a race track that make it that makes the best teams rise to the top. Yeah, it’s becoming a really awesome race track. I feel like it’s becoming closer to Homestead than really Vegas. I put Vegas kind of in the category with Charlotte, with really coarse that doesn’t really wear that much. So yeah, it’s becoming an awesome race track. I love it.”

WHAT’S IT BEEN LIKE TO HAVE KYLE LARSON TO WORK WITH NOW AND WHAT HAS HE BROUGHT TO THE TABLE TO BETTER THE HENDRICK ORGANIZATION AND YOURSELF?
“There are a lot of different kinds of drivers. But to put it simply, Larson is just a feel guy. He just feels it. And that’s really cool to have around, because he’s not really entrenched in the data and all those things. He just honestly tells the team whether the car is loose or tight, or tight in a certain area. He just works on it that way. It’s cool to have a guy that keeps things simple.”

PERFORMANCE BREEDS EVEN MORE CONFIDENCE. IS THAT WHAT YOU HAVE FOUND?
“Yeah, I think for sure. It’s like what comes first, the chicken or the egg? For this situation, in NASCAR, I think performance is that needle-mover for confidence; at least for me it’s always been that way. I grew up and the biggest thing I heard coming from Legend Cars is oh man, you’re not going to win as much. So, how do you find confidence in other ways? Well, I think it comes from working with your crew chief and figuring out how to make the car faster. There are small victories in finishing, for example, finishing Top 10 at Richmond, which has been a track where I usually get lapped. Figuring out those small victories, and hopefully you win plenty of races too, but there are small wins along the way that help build that confidence.”

DID YOU EXPECT TO BE THE TOP GUY AT HENDRICK THIS SOON IN YOUR CAREER?
“I always expect a lot out of myself. I never really look at it as trying to be the top person at Hendrick. I just kind of look at the overall perspective of the whole series. But yeah, you never want to be the last guy and you never want to be struggling when all your teammates are winning. So, that’s kind of the biggest thing; just trying to ride the wave, you know; everyone is doing well trying to be part of that. I feel like we’re doing that right now.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.

About Chevrolet
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, available in 75 countries with nearly 4 million cars and trucks sold in 2019. Chevrolet models include electric and 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 www.chevrolet.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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