CHEVY NCS AT DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY: William Byron Transcript

FEBRUARY 12, 2020

WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA ‘COLOR OF THE YEAR’ CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Daytona 500 Media Day Highlights:

Q. IRacing, how is it going so far?
WILLIAM BYRON: It’s going well. I think first in the owner points right now, so that is good. Obviously, a small sample set with one race. I’m excited. I think they’re doing a great job, Nick and John, John winning the Clash last week, finishing sixth in the 500, then Nick finishing second barely last night. I think it’s great. Kind of gives me something to look forward to during the week.

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Q. Is it humbling to give back to iRacing?
WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, it’s a big deal for me because I feel like, A, I still use it. Whether right or wrong, that’s what I do. That’s what I kind of use as preparation. B, because it’s what I grew up doing. I want to give back to something that is important to me. I think that’s really important to me.

Q. (Question about the yellow line.)
WILLIAM BYRON: That’s always good. There’s controversy. That means people are covering the sport, covering whatever it is. It’s good that people are watching, actually care about what’s going on. I don’t know. I think, I mean, my instincts would never tell me to do that because obviously there’s a rule in the racing that I do. Yeah, I think hopefully there’s plenty of races we can win this year, and that one won’t come back to haunt us.

Q. What is your best Chase Elliott story?
WILLIAM BYRON: I got to know Chase through racing in late models. What’s funny about that is the first race we did, I think we qualified 1-2. I don’t remember whether he was first or I was first, whatever. We ended up racing. I was really bad at shifting at the time. I did not understand how to shift. Could barely use a clutch, things like that. I was kind of not sure what to do. I missed a shift on a restart and cost him his whole race. That was very embarrassing because Chase was somebody I looked up to at the time. He was kind of where I wanted to be. He was in the Xfinity Series at the time. I went over to his bus and apologized. I sometimes wonder if he’s behind me on a restart whether or not he thinks of that. I don’t know. I’ll have to ask him sometime.

Q. What is it like being his teammate?
WILLIAM BYRON: That was 2015. I think with Chase what I appreciate about him is how simple he keeps things, how successful he is by doing that. I think there’s a lot to admire about how he goes about his business. He really just proves it on the track. He doesn’t really talk or say how he’s going to do it, he just proves it.

Q. With Jimmie leaving, Chase being the longest tenured Hendrick guy, do you think he’s someone who kind of steps into that role as being the leader and face of the organization?
WILLIAM BYRON: I don’t know. I think it takes time. I think Jeff Gordon has been a really vital asset for us because of the youth that we have within our team. I don’t think you can really expect, I don’t know how old Chase is, 24, 25, I don’t think you can really expect someone of our age to really assume that role. I don’t think that’s really necessary. But I think other people, or all of us, can really contribute. I think the best sign of an organization, as you see with Kyle and Denny, Martin, Erik, how well they do of all four of them contributing. I think that’s what has to happen. All four guys have to contribute at a high level so that everyone is better.

Q. Alex mentioned Jeff Gordon also being a huge part of your organization. Jeff behind closed doors, even though a broadcaster, he still has a role?
WILLIAM BYRON: What I like about Jeff the most is that he’s honest and open. At the same time, he has a witty side of him, a funny side. He can cut up. What I also like is that he is aware of a lot of different things that are going on. We were on the plane today flying down here commercially, and he was talking to me about iRacing. He was talking to me about what I do in my free time. He knows a lot about me. He only knows because he’s asked questions. I think I really like that quality.

Q. You still use iRacing. Do you plan on testing with your drivers at all?
WILLIAM BYRON: No, I don’t really have time to test and things like that. I definitely try to keep up to date with what they’re doing, just try to understand what’s going on.

Q. How big is the Logitech sponsorship?
WILLIAM BYRON: Huge. I think it’s really big and important. I’m really excited about that sponsorship and partnership, really a partnership with Logitech, because I always grew up racing with their equipment. Now to have them as a supporter of our team, it just really is cool because it kind of brings it full circle.

Q. You said Chase is a quiet guy. He’s been voted the most popular racecar driver the last couple years. Have you seen instances of that popularity off the track?
WILLIAM BYRON: He’s really personable. I think when it comes to hanging out, he’s just that kind of person everyone is going to gravitate towards someone like that because they’re personable, they just have that ability to walk up to a stranger and talk. Honestly what I respect is what he does on the track mostly. But, yeah, he’s a cool guy.

Q. (Question about iRacing.)
WILLIAM BYRON: I think it was kind of the way it looked. I don’t think they were as extreme as what it looked like. Definitely it’s a lot different, a lot of different philosophies out there. Yeah, I’m excited to kind of see how the season goes moving forward.

Q. (Question about iRacing.)
WILLIAM BYRON: I think there’s some work to be done there. I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong way in terms of how it should feel. I think there’s some work to be done there. I wasn’t super impressed with it right off the bat because I feel like saving tires is not something that you really do in NASCAR. You kind of go as hard as you can pretty much, reap the repercussions of that over a long run, but it’s not critical.

Q. When we talk about Jimmie being a mentor to you, you haven’t raced that much.
WILLIAM BYRON: He’s been a huge mentor for me, kind of given me a lot of support. Just kind of grown the off-track relationship, being at the karting track, working with him on a personal level with fitness, understanding how my body works and things like that. He’s been a huge mentor in those areas. I grew up being a big Jimmie Johnson fan and that feels cool.

Q. Will it be weird not having him there?
WILLIAM BYRON: I think just the mentor side he has for us, what he brings to the table in that area is going to be missed.

Q. This is your third year of being part of this sport. People feel like this is your year to burst onto the scene. What is the feeling you have this year? Is it different than the last couple years?
WILLIAM BYRON: I think so. It’s more normal for me because I feel like there’s just less new things. I feel like that’s going to really help me grow because, yeah, I don’t have to worry about what all of the different things I have to get used to are. Working with Chad, he’s actually the first crew chief I’ve worked with since legend cars, to work with for a second time. I’m just really excited about that, having some consistency there. It’s going to be fun. If we can start the year off fast-paced, I think it’s going to make things fall in line a lot easier.

Q. IRacing, what kind of tips would you give to a lot of the other iRacing folks?
WILLIAM BYRON: As far as after the 500?

Q. Getting ready for the 500.
WILLIAM BYRON: I don’t know. I mean, I think the 500 is a difficult race because you just have to survive, kind of get to the end. It’s kind of an attrition. At the same time, you have to have the right strategy. It’s a fine line being too aggressive and not aggressive enough. It’s tough. I’m hoping to figure it out this year.

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