chevy racing–nascar–martinsville–william byron


ON SHORT TRACKS, YOU’RE EITHER TOP-10 OR OUTSIDE THE TOP-20. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO?“That’s a good question. We’ve had some really good short track races, but yeah, then we’ve had some issues with brakes and mechanical things. Trying to make sure that we make all that stuff last and make it to the end of the race is really important. So, I think that’s a big emphasis for us. I feel like some of that is how your car is driving, but also just technique and making sure that I’m taking care of my stuff throughout the early part of the race so I can have something good at the end. I think that’s all it is. When we’ve had good handling stuff, then we’ve done well. But you can’t try to crutch it too much with brakes and stuff if you’re not handling well.” 
SOME CHATTER NOW THAT MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE GETTING VACCINATED, WHEN WOULD NASCAR ALLOW POTENTIALLY MORE PEOPLE IN THE GARAGE; WOULD DRIVERS START DOING MEET-AND-GREETS AGAIN. DO YOU HAVE ANY SORT OF STANDARD FOR WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE OR DO YOU JUST DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD TO DO?“Yeah, I’ll just roll with whatever is comfortable with how we approach it. I feel fairly comfortable as is right now. I think the protocols and things are working well. Yeah, I think it’s going to be a gradual thing. But I think you see all sports right now getting more and more fans around; having them in masks, but being able to have them around. So, I’m good with it if people have masks on. I think it’s working towards the right direction.”
SPECIFIC TO MARTINSVILLE, LAST YEAR YOU WERE 8TH IN THE SPRING AND 35TH IN THE FALL. WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE IN THOSE TWO RACES FOR YOU?“The fall, there was a lot of stuff going on. We had a mechanical issue there at the end that cost us finishing that race. But I thought we were OK; I thought we were honestly that eighth to tenth range. I don’t think we were going to run in the top-five. But the spring, I thought we could run the top-five, but we had to go to the back three or four times for issues. I think, honestly, the spring I was pretty happy about. I know we’ve got a little bit of a different setup this time. I feel like we’re going to be really fast, so it’s just a matter of making it to the end of the race with a shot at it.”
IF YOU HAD TO PIN-POINT ONE THING THAT MAKES MARTINSVILLE UNIQUE AND DIFFICULT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?“Just the rhythm. You have to adapt to kind of how the rubber lays down. It’s just a very difficult rhythm place. A little bit off is a lot; you can go a lap down pretty easily. It’s just kind of a rhythm place. You have to find that. It makes it easy if you have a decent car and you can find that rhythm.”
BACK IN DECEMBER, YOU TALKED ABOUT WANTING THE NO. 24 TEAM TO BECOME A CONSISTENT THREAT WHERE EACH TRACK WASN’T A WEAKNESS FOR YOU AND YOU WEREN’T JUST A ONE-TIME WINNER EACH YEAR. WITH THE PERFORMANCE YOU’VE HAD THROUGH SEVEN RACES, HOW CLOSE DO YOU FEEL YOU AND YOUR TEAM ARE TO BEING AT THAT LEVEL?“I think it’s going according to plan. I think honestly, we started the year and things were off to a really bad start; we had some bad luck and it really forced us to hone in on just executing a clean race. We did that and we won. And then honestly from there, we just tried to execute really clean races and try to get this team executing on a high level to where we can start to push some of the details, like pit road, restarts and things like that that we can start to be aggressive with. We put together a really good five races in a row here and yeah, I feel like we are in that category now of being able to contend every week. We just have to make the next step to lead some more laps. It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve done that, so that’s important to us.”
DRIVERS HAVE SAID MARTINSVILLE IS BOTH FUN AND QUITE DIFFICULT TO RACE THERE. WHAT CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS RACE TRACK STAND OUT TO YOU THE MOST?“I think just the way you have to run the curb. Obviously, you try to be as low to it as you can without touching it too much. It’s tricky – you have to get in the corner a certain way. Running the curb is hard and it’s tough to get drive off, too. It’s really kind of one of those standard short tracks, but I like the rhythm of it. It’s one of my favorites because it’s got good grip, but it’s a challenge. And you can pass; usually it’s not a huge issue to pass, you just have to set guys up the right way. I like it. Somebody mentioned how a lot of champions win at Martinsville – I think it’s just because it’s an experience place. It’s a really tough place.”
BEING NO WORSE THAN EIGHTH SINCE YOU WON AT HOMESTEAD, HOW HAS YOUR MENTALITY OR CONFIDENCE CHANGED IN HOW YOU APPROACH GOING TO THE RACETRACK EACH WEEKEND?“I think we approach it the same, but I think there’s definitely a little more confidence that we can think outside the box a little bit. We’re not just trying to string together one good run to kind of get back on track. Yeah, I think for us, it’s kind of that slow climb of trying to go from I feel like we’re that top-seven to eight team right now, but try to make that next step to be a top-five team. It’s kind of an evolution, but I think we’re getting there. It’s awesome to run as well as we have every week and have specific things to work on; not have to worry about big stuff, we can just worry about small stuff to try and get better. I think we’re on the right track.”
IN THE WEEKEND RELEASE FROM HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THE GRASS THAT’S BEEN TAKEN OUT AT MARTINSVILLE. HOW BIG OF A THING IS THAT FOR DRIVERS? IS THAT ACTUALLY NOTICABLE AND SOMETHING YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO ADJUST TO?“Yeah, I mean I think in turns three and four, for sure. One and two, I’ve never really noticed the grass; but three and four, there was a separation between the grass and when the concrete started. So now, it’s not there and that was kind of a reference for where the center of the corner was. I think honestly, that’s going to be different. I’m interested to see how that is on the pace laps. But yeah, I think you’ll adapt and find new marks. It does kind of change things.”