NASCAR CUP SERIES
FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 9, 2021
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Teleconference Transcript Highlights:
HEADING TO RICHMOND THIS WEEKEND, WHAT ARE YOUR PRIMARY THOUGHTS AFTER THE CHAOS WE SAW AT DARLINGTON?
“I think it’s going to be just a normal Richmond race. Richmond is a place where you can get pretty strung out. Car performance and driver performance is really critical. For us, I think it’s just to focus on getting the best finish we can and hopefully having a lot of speed. Based on our Spring race at Richmond, we should have a lot of speed. I feel good about it. Richmond has not been a good place in the past for us, but this year it has. I feel like we can take that momentum and performance and apply it to this weekend and hopefully get ourselves above that Playoff bubble.”
DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NEXT GEN CAR A LOT OR DO YOU COMPARTMENTALIZE THAT UNTIL A LITTLE FARTHER DOWN THE ROAD, EVEN WITH THE TEST?
“Yeah, I’ve definitely thought about it over the last two days because I was down there testing and experiencing the car. I feel like I learned a lot of things. I still keep a pretty open mind just because we are six months out from racing and a lot changes as soon as the teams get a little more time with the car and have a chance to really work on it and understand the things that make it tick. But all I can do it just give them the best feedback possible and I felt like I did that over two days and that we made some good progress in terms of philosophy and ideas on the car. We did some drafting runs with the pack, which was good, and those went really well. So for me, it’s just all about continuing to learn. But I kind of put that in some box now and focus on this year because that’s ultimately what really matters right now. So, for me, right now, I’m just focused on the Playoffs. After the last two days, I just kind of put that into next year’s.”
JUST HOW DIFFERENT WAS THE CAR THAT YOU DROVE THIS WEEK COMPARED WITH THE CAR YOU TESTED A YEAR AGO?
“That’s a good question. I feel like it’s very different in terms of the details. The rear-view camera, that’s a big difference that I think we all underestimated the ability of that. The interior design of the car was a lot more similar to the current car than I thought it would be. We spent a lot of time at the shop trying to get that right and make sure my seat position was good. I sit slightly lower than I do in my current car, which I don’t like. So, we’re going to work on that. The steering is still a work in progress. I don’t know if it’s really the steering of if it’s the tire and the stiffness of the sidewall, and also the stiffness of the suspension parts and things. So, that’s an interesting work in progress because I feel like that’s going to throw some guys off because you’re not moving the wheel as much and the car is very responsive to everything. So, that’s interesting. Very normal in the shifter. I feel really good about that. The drafting aspect of the car was okay. I think the speeds were a little bit lower than the current car, but some of the similar characteristics in pushing and things like that were still there. So, that’s kind of my general summary.”
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE ‘RESPONSIVE STEERING’ A BIT MORE?
“I think it’s good in the fact that yeah, it takes less effort. The car is quicker to respond. It’s definitely going to be a good thing on short tracks. I think about Martinsville and how much easier it’s going to be on the drivers and then yeah, it’s just going to be easier. The car is going to turn better at a short track, I think. But when it comes to Daytona, it was very easy to go around a corner almost with no effort. I don’t know if that’s exactly what you want. Typically, at Daytona you want to have some forgiveness if you get out of shape or something like that to be able to save it. I think everyone is very interested just to see how it is when you do get out of shape and whether or not you can correct it and keep going, or what. That’s probably the question we all have and it’s probably going to just take until somebody crashes in a big pack to kind of see. That’s probably my biggest question. I think it’s a good thing and something to still work on, too.”
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM LAST YEAR ABOUT THE RANGE OF EMOTIONS THE PLAYOFFS CAN HAVE FROM ONE WEEK TO THE NEXT?
“When I look at the Playoffs for myself, in general, it’s all about eliminating the big numbers. I think that unfortunately we had a big number this past weekend and not really of our making. Really, not of our making at all. Even the tire issue was just a one in a thousand chance that a lug nut or something hits the inside of valve stem on the inside of the tire and cuts down the inner liner. So, just a very freak kind of incident that we can’t really control. The guys did a good job bringing a fast car, number one. Fixing the car to make it still fast after the damage with the No. 48 (Alex Bowman). So, I feel like for us, just going into Richmond, I mean we just have to have a smooth race. We have the speed, and we have the ability. We were top three or four in points all season long. A lot of the reason for that was because of our consistency and speed. Those two things are things that are going to get you through each round. We’ve just got to focus on the next two races. We’re only nine points out of the cutline and I feel like if we just do our jobs, we’re going to be plenty good. So, it is a lot different than last year. I felt like last year, not that I lucked into that Darlington finish, but I didn’t really run top 5 all day and got a good finish at the end, and we knew, going into Richmond, we weren’t going to be very fast. At Bristol, we thought we were going to be okay and unfortunately, we got caught up with a lapped car. It’s just a lot different situation than last year, overall. Our team is a lot different. I feel like our speed is very good. So, we are very capable of advancing through the round.”
QUESTION REGARDING THE COMMITMENT LINE AT RICHMOND:
“To get on pit road I think there are a lot of different techniques. It looks like some guys just kind of ultimately just turn down early and get to pit road extremely early. You kind of run the risk if you stay up there on the track of not getting the car slowed down. I knew I wasn’t going to make it, pretty early on, because the car started wheel-hopping and I couldn’t get the gears to match up and decel. So yeah, it’s a risk you take. On our end, I think there’s going to be more of a conservative approach this race just to make sure we don’t have any issues. You’ve still got to get all you can get. But do so, and make sure you can get there. I don’t see it being a huge issue. We all kind of know what we’re up against. It is hard to see that box at night. I think that’s going to lead to some issues for some guys maybe.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON USING REAR-VIEW CAMERA AT THE NEXT GEN TEXT?
“I liked it. The way my seat position was and everything, I could really see very well out of the real mirror on the top. I think that’s just something that we can definitely get ironed out and fixed. So, I kind of used the rear-view camera instead, the whole time, and felt like it was really good and accurate. You could see the spoiler and it seemed like the refresh rate on the camera was pretty accurate. I think that’s going to be a tool. I’m not sure how many guys will use it right away, but I’m sure over time, if you’ve got access to electronics like that, it’s better than the alternative of not. I think over time, guys will adapt to it and use it.”
HOW DID YOU FEEL IN THE DRAFT DURING THE NEXT GEN TEST AT DAYTONA?
“A lot of us compared it, like the runs were not as big as the current car. Maybe a little bit more like the Xfinity package, where there’s a little bit more gap there. But once you were close to somebody, you could still push and affect that car and go forward. We could still run two-wide. So I don’t know if the energy was enough with eight cars to really know what the draft is going to be like for sure. But it sounds like we’re going to do another test in January at Daytona. We’ll definitely be pushing and shoving there, if there’s 20-plus cars, and have a better idea of what it’s going to feel like.”
HOW HAS WORKING WITH RUDY FUGLE (CREW CHIEF) AND ENTERING THE PLAYOFFS BEEN WITH HIM FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM?
“It’s been great. Rudy has done a phenomenal job all year. In anything, there are growing pains of a new team and crew chief and driver, even though we worked together in the past, there are definitely new things in the Cup series you have to learn. But we’ve continued to believe in each other all year in the very good times and the very bad. For us, we continue to work together well and just are very open with each other. I think that’s all really good. The biggest thing that he’s done all year is bring really fast cars that are balanced well and set-up well, and that’s his job to do and our job to get right. He’s done a phenomenal job with all that stuff.”
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