William Byron Survives ‘Bulletin Board Day’ at Kansas Speedway

Getty William Byron watches qualifying at Kansas Speedway.

William Byron posted his fifth top-five finish of the Cup Series season when he crossed the finish line third overall at Kansas Speedway. However, the stat line does not tell the full story of his “bulletin board” day.

Byron started from the pole at Kansas Speedway, and he led the first two laps. His day quickly changed after a speeding penalty during the first set of green flag pit stops. He had to complete a pass-through penalty, which dropped him one lap behind the leaders. He also hit the wall multiple times and lost another lap before the end of the first stage.

Byron, who was three laps down at one point, was able to take the wave around multiple times in Stage 2 to get back on the lead lap. At that point, he had an opportunity to contend for a strong finish. He worked his way back to the front of the pack with a car that was admittedly less-than-perfect, and he led another 10 laps before ultimately giving way to Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin in the final stage.

“I mean, just hard work,” Byron said about his comeback. “The team making — Rudy, the guys making good adjustments. We definitely hurt the performance of the car to have the tail messed up and the way I hit the wall twice.

“Thought our day could be done depending on how we hit the wall, and we’re just fortunate enough that it all came back our way at the end. We got it to handle pretty good. We got it good enough to where we could run up towards the front. [I] got some clean air and was able to maintain up there. So definitely a bulletin board day, like Rudy [Fugle] said, to show our character as a team.”

Communication Between Fugle & Byron Was Critical

GettyWilliam Byron celebrates a Pole Award at Kansas Speedway.

Rudy Fugle has been atop the pit box for the No. 24 team since the start of the 2021 season. He replaced seven-time champion Chad Knaus, and he became a pivotal player. He has guided Byron to five of his six career wins, which includes two seasons with multiple trips to Victory Lane.

Along with helping the team pursue victories on a near-weekly basis, Fugle has been a key figure in terms of demeanor. He has been the guiding voice in Byron’s helmet during the frustrating moments, and he has helped keep the North Carolina native calm. This is a role that he played during an important May race at Kansas Speedway.

“Man, I mean, we just tried to communicate as much as we could,” Byron said about Fugle. “I mean, stuff was going wrong — some out of our control. A lot of it was in our control, speeding and things like that. He just kept my head in it. I was just going to continue to drive the car as best I could and try to get to the next run to get an adjustment. That’s really all you can do.

“Unfortunately, when we were really bad at the beginning of the race, it went largely green flag, and so we didn’t have a lot of options. But luckily, somewhere in there in Stage 2, we go from three laps down to two, two to one, and then get on the lead lap. And it felt like as soon as we got on the lead lap, it was game on. It felt like we could run with anyone.”

Byron Maintained Instead of Losing Spots in the Standings

Finishing third overall instead of outside of the top 20 and multiple laps down is a major win for Byron and the No. 24 team. The reason is the number of points that he gained at Kansas Speedway.

Byron didn’t score any bonus points during the first two stages, but he still left the track with 34 points to his name. For comparison, Todd Gilliland earned 13 points with a 24th-place finish while Harrison Burton earned seven with a 30th-place finish.

Byron left Kansas Speedway sitting ninth in the championship standings with 331 total points. He is seven behind Kyle Larson and 19 behind Ryan Blaney.

Byron would be higher if not for an L1-Level penalty issued after the trip to Richmond Raceway that took away 60 points. However, he still remains in contention for the bonus points that go to the top 10 drivers in the standings once the playoffs begin.

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