MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
BASS PRO SHOPS NRA NIGHT RACE
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
AUGUST 16, 2019
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1 Media Breakout Session Highlights:
GOING INTO ONE OF THE BIGGEST RACES OF THE SEASON AT DARLINGTON, HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
“I feel good. We did some simulator work for Darlington this past week. I don’t think you’re going to be wide open there. I think in Turns 1 and 2, we will be lifting a bit and in Turns 3 and 4, it’s going to be pretty normal. It hasn’t really changed that much there, just the shape of the corner. Just same old Darlington stuff; try to keep it off the wall, try to make sure that you are getting in a rhythm by the fence because that is where it’s fast. It’s just a fun place to go to. I really enjoy that race and having a throwback is even more special. I look forward to it. I think with our points situation, we are going to go there and be pretty aggressive.”
REGULAR SEASON IS WINDING DOWN. HOW DOES THAT CHANGE THE APPROACH TO THE WAY YOU RACE?
“Like I said, we have enough of a buffer I guess to be a little more aggressive. But we still have to accumulate good points. We can’t just go out and flounder over the next three races, but we just have to stay the course and progress even farther. We are very close to tenth, so if we can get to tenth, I think there is a little Playoff point advantage incentive for that. That would be really good for us.”
WHAT IS THE VIBE LIKE IN THE SHOP?
“It’s been really good. In three years’ time total, this is the most comfortable I’ve been at Hendrick and feeling like I have a race team that is really similar to what I grew up doing with a really close group of guys. We don’t really focus on the other things going on, but it’s definitely the most comfortable I’ve felt at HMS, which I think there is a lot to be said about that. Chad (Knaus), car chief, and engineers, we have a really good connection. I’d say I’ve worked with half of the team last year and half of the team was new this year, so it has gotten really comfortable.”
WITH YOU BEING KIND OF ON THE BUBBLE, IS IT INTIMIDATING GOING TO DARLINGTON?
“Not really, no. It’s tough every week getting around the race track. Darlington is just no exception, it’s definitely a little tougher to keep it off the wall and all that. You go there with that expectation and you know it’s going to be a difficult race. It’s 500 miles, it’s a long race with a day to night transition that makes it difficult as well. You just kind of factor all of those things in. The more prepared you are, the better you’re going to do.”
YOU JUST TALKED TO A FAN THAT YOU ARE ONE OF HIS FAVORITE DRIVERS. IT WAS AMAZING EVERYTHING HE KNEW ABOUT THE SPORT. HOW REWARDING WAS THAT?
“Yeah, it’s really cool to meet kids like him and just understand what they look forward to, how big of a deal it is for them to come here and watch races wherever we are. It’s really important to give back and see how excited they are as a fan to be here.”
GOODYEAR IS TRYING TO BE A LITTLE MORE AGGRESSIVE WITH THE PLAYOFFS. WHAT DIRECTION WOULD YOU ADVISE THEM TO GO?
“I feel like as far as the 1.5-mile tracks go, the Chicago tire was by far the best tire that I’ve felt all year. The tire just had pretty steep fall off for us at the end of the run, but it had the most feel in the car in terms of sliding the front and sliding the back. You could be on edge and still go fast. So, I like that more. It seems like every tire that feels more like you can slip it is just the worst because you feel on edge, but you aren’t sliding around, you’re just going slower. I like tires that you can kind of slide a little bit and know that is kind of your limit, instead of being timid. I don’t like that.”
HOW DO YOU SLOW IT DOWN HERE AT BRISTOL?
“The past three times I came here, which was just last year and the spring of this year, I just felt like things were going by really fast in the Cup car especially. It’s not that the pace is any faster in the Cup car than the other series, but it’s just the quality of competition is really high. I think this time is the first time that I’ve been able to kind of take a breath here, give accurate feedback and not be so broken up on the radio. Hopefully that continues.”
SO, YOU GET USE TO IT AS YOU GO ALONG? IT TAKES A LOT OF EXPERIENCE?
“Yeah, it does. You just have to relax a little bit and kind of embrace and learn where you need to be better. You can’t just be going around here at 100 mph in your mind and just trying to process everything super fast. You have to slow down and just focus on your marks, your line, your stuff.”
WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL FEELINGS AFTER HEARING OF DALE EARNHARDT JR.’S ACCIDENT?
“I was driving down the highway. I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic and I was looking on Twitter. Somebody had commented that a plane had went down and the first person that I saw was that it was Dale Jr.’s plane. Immediately, my heart kind of sank. I had just seen Dale Jr. the day before, so it’s tough. You just don’t know, but that’s a huge blessing. It just helps you put things into perspective because it could have been a lot worse for sure.”
YOU’VE NEVER RACED OLD SCHOOL BRISTOL. DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE CHANGES THEY’VE MADE TO THE TRACK WILL BE LIKE THE OLD SCHOOL, BOTTOM-FEEDING KIND OF BRISTOL?
“I think it might be. My friend and I were out here watching the Truck race last night and just watching the way the racing was. It’s tougher to move guys successfully anymore with the grip on the bottom. It’s not the old Bristol where there use to be a diamond in the corner and you would drift up in the center, and you would rely on the guy kind of cutting you a break to turn back down to exit the corner. I think that’s why the bump-and-run worked so well because when the guy behind you caught the first guy, he was kind of at the mercy of the guy behind him to cut him a break and a lot of times he didn’t. I don’t know if it’s exactly that way, but you will have to move guys if you’re just running bumper-to-bumper, so it’s going to be inevitable.”
GOING BACK ON WHY YOU FEEL THE MOST COMFORTABLE THAT YOU HAVE EVER FELT WITH THIS TEAM, JUST EXPAND ON THAT.
“This is the first time I can walk into the shop and I don’t feel like I’m on pins and needles with the guys, in terms of them just trusting me and me feeling comfortable with them to tell them what is exactly on my mind I guess. It’s the first time I can walk into the shop and feel like I can say what’s on my mind; if I’m not content or I’m not happy with something or even when things go great. My guys and I do a lot of stuff during the week to try to interact. I wouldn’t say that we go out to dinner every night by any means, but if we have free weekends, we all go out and do something fun if we are away from the track. I think it’s really the first time I’ve done that with a group of guys at Hendrick. It’s been cool.”
WHAT ARE THINGS ON YOUR PERSONAL CHECKLIST OF THINGS YOU WANT TO DO AS A CUP SERIES DRIVER?
“I would say just feedback from me, making sure my feedback is actually making my car go faster. I’m trying to make sure that I’m giving accurate information so that it’s actually making us better. I feel like I typically do that, it’s just doing that at a higher level and at a quicker pace.”
FROM RECENT SUCCESS, HOW DO YOU AND YOUR TEAM FEEL LIKE YOU SHOULD APPROACH THE PLAYOFFS?
“I haven’t really thought about it. I think the off week will give me a chance to think about it more so than I have yet. I don’t really know. I would assume I would approach it like I’ve done with the Xfinity and Truck stuff. I didn’t really change that much; you just know that you bring a better race car and you know that your guys put in more effort so you put in more effort. I learned pretty quickly in the Truck Playoffs that I can’t do anything out of my norm. So, that’s really what I’m going to do here.”
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