MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 18, 2019
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 UNIFIRST CAMARO ZL1, Media Breakout Session Highlights:
ARE YOU LOOKING AT KANSAS AS A MUST-WIN SITUATION?
“Yeah, I think it’s definitely a must-win situation. I think we can look at the stages and try to get a bunch of points in those. Ultimately, we’re going to have to win and that’s our goal.”
AFTER THE FIRST PRACTICE, DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A CAR TO DO IT?
“We’ll see. It’s hard to say here because of the draft and just the effect it has on lap times based on the group you’re around. We didn’t have as much speed as we wanted to have, in terms of lap times. But the car felt pretty good and I felt like we could move around. We just have to continue to work on it.”
WHAT WAS THE ATMOSPHERE IN YOUR MEETING ON TUESDAY WHEN ALL THREE OF YOU ARE BELOW THE CUT LINE?
“Yeah, I mean we are all kind of in the same boat, which is going to kind of make it every man for himself. We always work really well together when it comes to notes, what we’re learning from each practice and stuff like that. I think we’ll have that ability still. When the race starts, it’s going to be all about going forward and trying to win for each one of our teams.”
IS A CUTOFF RACE NERVE-RACKING? ARE YOU USED TO IT NOW?
“It’s definitely a new level of stress I would say because when you’re racing out there with not much to lose or even if you have a points gap based on the guys you’re around during a regular season, it’s not as big of a deal. You’re just trying to do the best that you can and set yourself up for the playoffs. The three-race elimination deal is just a lot more stress I would say and you don’t know what to think showing up to the race track. You try to stay calm a little bit, but it’s definitely tough too.”
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK ON HOW THIS SEASON HAS GONE? DO YOU LOOK AT IT AS A SUCCESSFUL SEASON?
“It is. I think our goal was 12th in points going into the year. That was something we thought we could get to, so we’re kind of there. We had to kind of reset going into this round and think about how we can advance. Everything was looking really good until about 25 laps to go last week. Really, you just have to put that behind you and think about what we have to do to win. Ultimately, if we want to advance past this weekend, we’re probably going to have to do that. If we want to advance through the next round, we’re going to have to do that too. That’s kind of what it takes.”
THIS BEING YOUR FIRST TIME IN THE PLAYOFFS, HOW HAS IT BEEN TO HAVE SOMEONE LIKE CHAD (KNAUS) THAT HAS BEEN THROUGH IT?
“Yeah, I mean I’d say he’s calm. He’s a lot calmer than I thought he would be in the playoff situation. I don’t really get a lot of updates, as far as points go and all that stuff, during the race. We really just try to do the best job we can all the way through the race and try to get the best finish we can. I would say I’ve noticed how calm he’s been. I’ve noticed, for the most part, we’ve had a good uptake in performance in our cars and that’s been great. We just have to have that this weekend.”
WHAT HAS THE BEEN THE BIGGEST ASPECT OF PROGRESSION YOUR TEAM HAS MADE COMPARED TO LAST YEAR AT THIS TIME?
“Well, it’s a totally different team, to be honest with you. There are some guys for sure that are the same on my team from last year, which is great. But, as far as the engineering goes, it’s a completely different engineering group in my hauler this year. Chad (Knaus) is obviously different. My lead and second engineers are different, so that makes it a much different environment for me. It took us a few races to gel, but every since probably May, we’ve been pretty solid. There’s a lot that’s unique about this year, but we’re building a great foundation for what’s to come.”
WHAT HAS THIS WEEK BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?
“Stressful. Stressful because you’re thinking about what you’re going to have to do and that’s to go out there to win. There’s a possibility of leapfrogging a bunch of guys in points, but you can’t approach it that way. You have to go out there and try to win. That’s kind of what I’ve been thinking about all week. I’ve been doing a lot of preparation, looking at a lot of videos to try and prepare for that feeling in that moment. That’s really all you can do, I think. You can’t lose sleep over the fact that we’ve tried to do all we can to get to this point. That’s just the situation that we’re in and we just have to go do our jobs. That’s just how I try to approach it, but it’s stressful for sure.”
HAVE YOU NOTICED AN INCREASE IN PRESSURE BETWEEN THE ROUNDS? IF YOU GET INTO THE NEXT ROUND, DO YOU THINK THAT WILL INCREASE?
“Yeah, I’m sure there’s pressure for other guys. For us, we really don’t have anything to lose this weekend. So, there’s not really any anxiety I guess about what happens if we don’t advance. It is what it is. We’d love to go through to the next round, that’s the goal and that would be kind of exceeding our expectations. We try to keep the bar kind of low and just try to focus on what we can do.”
IF YOU DON’T END UP GOING THROUGH, WHAT’S YOUR TEAM’S PLAN FOR THE FINAL FOUR RACES AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2020?
“We want to try to win, if that’s this weekend or going forward. That’s really the goal. That’s how we’re going to approach it, for sure. Hopefully, that’s what we can do.
YOU’VE BEEN IN THE PLAYOFF SITUATION BEFORE IN THE TRUCKS AND XFINITY SERIES. DO YOU TAKE THAT SAME APPROACH?
“Really the biggest difference is that a lot of the time in those series, I was the top seed or whatever. In the trucks, we won and that advanced us through. So, we got really lucky with that. I’m on the other end of the spectrum this time around, so it’s not something I can really look at for advice for. It’s a new situation.”
IF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS DOESN’T GET A DRIVER INTO THE NEXT ROUND, HOW DO YOU THINK THE TEAMS WILL LOOK BACK ON 2019?
“The expectations are high for us. We have a lot of resources and have every opportunity to go out and win. It’s been a good year. For our team, it’s been kind of what was expected and everything has kind of gone as planned. I think for the other guys, they’ve been here before so I can’t really speak to what they would think. I think we are still trying to get better and improve, and I think we are turning that corner this year. With us being in the Playoffs, that’s great. We just have to continue to make that climb to get to that next step. For me, looking towards next year, just try to gain more points by winning during the regular season. That’s the easiest way to advance, for sure.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
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