Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron started Sunday’s Geico 500 in the fourth position and ended his day second behind winner Brad Keselowski. However, the two-position net gain does not tell the full story of the young NASCAR driver’s outing. He also recovered from a crash that sent him spinning through the grass.
The HMS driver met with Heavy and other members of the media on Sunday to discuss a fascinating race. He immediately faced questions about the wreck, hitting the wall, and still managing to take second place overall. Byron responded by first mentioning luck, but he gave the majority of credit to his No. 24 team.
“I feel like first when those things happen, you’re obviously trying to avoid the wreck, then that’s over,” Byron told the media members. “From me trying to avoid the wreck, I got hit from the inside, spun through the grass. Luckily the splitter stayed on the car. That’s pretty critical. Obviously, that would ruin your day pretty quick.
“We were able to slide up the racetrack. Luckily nobody hit us. Good job to those guys. Put left-side tires on, put right-side tires on, get some of the damage fixed, get it reasonable to go out there. Our guys did an awesome job. It’s really just a product of being a good race team, heads-up stuff about tire changes and where the pace car is, all those little details that kept us on the lead lap and in the game. I never really count us out if we have a manageable race car.”
The No. 24 team has remained one of NASCAR’s best in 2021
Through 10 weeks of Cup Series action, Byron has finished near the front of the pack eight times. His season started with struggles at the Daytona International Speedway oval and Road Course, but he rebounded by winning the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Byron has continued to post top-10 finishes while driving one of the best cars in the top series. He is always within reach of the lead, even during races that he dreaded. Sunday’s performance in the Geico 500 was just the latest example of his ability to fight for the win each and every week.
“I mean, I think we’re already taking it to the next level, the way we’re running,” Byron told media members. “Even today with the way we fixed the car, finished second. I feel like next week is just, hopefully, a continuation of what we’re doing.
“I think Richmond was the weakest track for us in this kind of three or four-race stretch that we kind of look at. We actually ran pretty well there. Bristol was one of those that we had circled that we didn’t expect to run well. We kind of were hoping to stay on the lead lap.”
Byron is ready for a return to Victory Lane
The HMS driver has two wins in his four-year Cup Series career — one at Homestead-Miami and one at Daytona — along with a total of 12 top-five finishes. He has continued to compete at a high level since entering NASCAR’s top series, but he is only getting started. Byron plans to return to Victory Lane in 2021 to ensure that he has crucial points entering the playoffs.
Achieving this goal of winning more races will not be a simple task, but Byron explained that the upcoming schedule will benefit him. There are multiple tracks in the near future where he previously found success. The list includes Charlotte Motor Speedway, the home of a grueling Memorial Day Weekend race.
“There’s been a few obstacles that we’ve already cleared,” Byron continued. “Now we’re going into the racetracks that are kind of the bread and butter of our team. Kansas has been really good for me in the past. Obviously, I’m very biased towards running well at Charlotte. I feel like that’s one that is really important for me. Even Dover is important. We got some family up there, too. All these coming up are really good opportunities for us to try to win another race.”
Byron will now try to return to Victory Lane on Sunday with a trip to Kansas Speedway for the Buschy McBusch Race 400. Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race, which takes place at 3 p.m. ET. The former driver of the No. 24 HMS Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon, will join Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer in the booth to call the race.