chevy racing–nascar–texas grand prix–william byron

WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Teleconference Transcript: ON HIS APPROACH TO COTA THIS WEEKEND“I think we just kind of go in with not as much focus; like, we don’t dwell on the result of the race weekend quite as much. We find a way to move on and get past it. But we approach the race just like any other race. We prepare the same and have the same nerves and excitement and all the feelings when you go into a race. So, it doesn’t really change for us. But yeah, I feel like COTA is a great opportunity. It’s a track that we don’t go back to again any other time of the year. It’s not important in that aspect, but it is important because we have a road course in the Playoffs with the Charlotte ROVAL. It’s important to make sure that I’m making progress on road courses and that our car is good on the road courses. That part is something that we’ll take from this weekend.”
IF YOU DO FINISH REALLY WELL, DOES THAT PROVE THAT EVERYTHING YOU GUYS CONTINUE TO DO, DOESN’T MATTER THE TYPE OF TRACK THAT YOU’RE GOING TO, THAT SHOWS YOU’VE REACHED THAT LEVEL OF CONSISTENCY YOU ARE LOOKING FOR?“Oh, yeah. For sure. The good teams in this sport are usually running up front every week. We’re trying to be one of those. We’ve excelled at a variety of tracks, but this is another one that we can try to check off the list. We desperately want to win another race. We need the points for the Playoffs and all those good things. So, I want to win just as bad this weekend as I do on an oval. I feel like I’ve been close on road courses. I’ve gotten a lot of great support from Max Papis and a lot of people that have helped me along the way to get better at road course. And that’s kind of what I’m focused on is trying to win my first road course race.”
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS IS ONE WIN AWAY FROM TYING THE RECORD OF PETTY IN NUMBER OF CUP WINS. WHAT DID YOU THINK THE 1-2-3-4 FINISH LAST WEEK SAYS ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION?“It’s just a variety of decades and rules packages and driver and crew chief changes, and they’ve always found a way to win. We definitely went through a Chevrolet time period, where it was really hard just to finish in the top-10. We’ve climbed out of that hole. We’ve crawled and worked really hard to get out of that hole and now we’re kind of back where I feel like we should be. It’s impressive. All the work that’s gone on in the last two or three years to get back to being a consistent race threat to win. So, it’s going in the right direction, for sure. We just have to keep it going. But it definitely shows the belief that Mr. Hendrick has in all of us and the fact that, through all those different decades of racing, they can still win races at high level.”
IS THERE ANYTHING IN THE LAST COUPLE THAT HAS SAID TO YOU YEAH, THIS IS WHY THEY’VE WON 250, 260 CUP RACES?“I think just the level of professionalism and detail. I feel like we don’t typically make the small mistakes that happen in racing. I feel like we execute well. We work well together. Those things have kind of carried us through the tough times, to be able to maximize our days and finish 10th if we can finish there. So, it’s all about the evolution and now we’ve got the speed on our side and the teamwork that is takes to get all four of us up front.”
COTA IS BRAND NEW ON THE SCHEDULE. IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU EXPECT IT TO BE DIFFERENT FROM ANY OTHER ROAD COURSE YOU’VE BEEN TO?“Well, it’s way longer to begin with. It’s going to take a really long time to make one lap. So, we’re kind of nervous about practice and how that’s going to go and how many laps you’re going to get legitimately. That’s going to be tough. There’s not a lot of walls there so there’s a lot of runoff, which is probably a good thing for our cars because we usually run into each other a lot on road courses. Usually, guys make big mistakes. Hopefully I’m not one of those that’s making a big mistake. But at least if I do at COTA, I feel like I can get away with it, which is nice. Typically, if there’s a lot of grass around the race track for us, it doesn’t work well for our cars. This is one of those tracks where there’s just a lot of asphalt where you can run off. That might make it a more aggressive race, maybe; knowing that you can get away with it. But for me, I feel like it’s just like every other road course. You’ve got to figure out how to get in and off the corners. Like the same old things, be good at shifting and down shifting and all those things.”
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP IN TURNING YOUR TOP-10’S INTO WINS?“It sucked to be fourth of four this past week, but I think that we were preforming really well. I’d say the last the last run of the race was probably our worst run, which wasn’t great. But yeah, I think we’ve had the speed to win. The start of the race at Dover was phenomenal, and unfortunately, we had kind of a brake issue that kind of hindered us. But I think we’re showing up with really good speed. We just have to put it all together and build our notebook. We’ve got to be somewhat patient because this is the first time that Rudy (Fugle) and I are going to these tracks together and we don’t exactly know what the track is going to do at the end of the race. Where, maybe our teammates have been there a couple of times together. So, I think we’re getting really close It’s just a matter of a couple little things going our way.”
HOW MUCH HAS CHAD KNAUS, AS COMPETITION DIRECTOR NOW, REALLY REVAMPED OR STEPPED-UP HIS ROLE IN MAKING THIS TEAM REALLY GOOD THIS SEASON?“I think he’s done a great job of kind of getting us all working together and giving us all competitive cars at the same time. In a lot of organizations, it is easy to give one guy something one week, and then roll it out for the other guys. But for us, I feel like Chas is doing a great job of giving us all the same opportunity, which is awesome. That’s all you can ask for as a driver. And I think it’s showing with the cars that we have and with the competitiveness of the four of us. I’m excited for him. I think he fits that roll really well. He’s kind of a floor general-type guy and he fits that roll.”
YOU HAVE THE IRACING EVENT TONIGHT. HOW MUCH COULD THAT HELP WITH THE BRAKING ZONES WHEN YOU ENTER YOUR FIRST PRACTICE SESSION AT COTA THIS WEEKEND?“I think, honestly, there’s been so much other prep this week for this race; and honestly, back to January if you want to go back that far in preparation. So, I honestly don’t feel like there’s going to be much in iRacing tonight that hasn’t already been learned, but I’m sure it’ll be fun.”
HOW MUCH WILL THE IRACING EVENT TONIGHT TRANSFER OVER FOR THE COTA RACE?“Like I was just saying, I feel like we’ve done a lot of prep already. IRacing is a great platform. I use it for a lot of different tracks. So, it’s a constant thing that I use every week. But yeah, I think for COTA specifically, we’ve had a lot of access and simulator time and have done some other things to get ready. I feel like this is one of the weeks where I won’t use it as much. But I think that when it comes to a lot of the tracks, I usually try to use it as a refresher or something like that.”
HOW DIFFERENT WILL IT BE TO HAVE PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING THIS WEEKEND? ARE YOU A FAN OF PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING OR HAVE THINGS REMAIN LIKE THAT HAVE BEEN WITH NEITHER?“I think it’ll be different this week with practice. I feel like we’re going to have to get back to the methods and the ways that we check the splitter and the air pressures, and our tire builds and all those things that we did a couple of years ago. We had practice at Bristol, but that wasn’t really the same because we were changing inches at a time to try to get the car correct. My opinion is, I don’t think we need practice at a lot of these race tracks. I think there are certain race tracks that we do, whether we’re going for the first time or we have the new car coming along. But the drivers and teams are at this level for a reason and it’s because we can adapt quickly. I feel like we put on a much better race when we have less practice.” WITH 20 TURNS, HAVE YOU MEMORIZED THEM ALL BY NUMBER WHERE YOU CAN REFER TO THEM QUICKLY AND TELL RUDY FUGLE? ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE A CHART IN THE CAR THAT’S GOING TO HELP YOU FOR REFERENCE?“I’ll definitely have a chart in the car. The funny thing is, when we’ve been in the simulator together and Rudy and I have been talking, I’ve referred to a lot of corners as that corner over there by the back stretch, or that one over there with the double corner (laughs). So, I don’t know. It’s going to be a lot of guessing. But I think he’ll get the gist from what I’m saying. He’s usually pretty good at picking up what I’m saying. As long as we can get through Turn 1 and talk about that one, and I think that one is pretty important, too. So, I at least know one through four. I’m used to that.”
COULD YOU EVER IMAGINE BEING IN THIS TOP-10 STREAK THAT YOU AND RUDY HAVE AMASSED?“No. Our goal going into this year was to be a really well-executed race team that could run competitively at a variety of tracks. I think that, my thing that I thought about through the off-season, was just trying to be part of that group that’s a consistent contender every week; those five to six guys that consistently run up-front. And we’ve done that so far. So, we’ve kind of checked the box on that. We just have to kind of establish new goals. I feel like there are some little details that we can do better, whether that’s pit road or just working on different things. I feel like there are some things that we can still work on, but we are definitely having to reset our goals because the team has done a great job and Rudy has done a great job. Rudy and I feel like we’ve worked well because we really do a good job of preparing and nailing the balance of the car to start the race and things like that. Once you get that, it kind of propels you into that top-5 more often.”
WOULD YOU AGREE THAT ONE OF THE REASONS HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAS PICKED-UP SO MUCH IS DUE TO CHAD KNAUS?“I think Chad has just given us all the same opportunity to go out there and run well. It’s like you see in a lot of organizations. It’s easy to focus on one guy, whether that’s consciously or subconsciously. But it’s easy to say okay, this guy is running well so let’s make sure that we’re giving him what we need to win. Not that the other guys aren’t, it’s just that’s the ebb and the flow of the sport, if you’re running up front every week, you’re wanting different things in your race car than if you’re running tenth and just trying to finish in the top-10. I think, honestly, that’s what I’ve noticed is just his willingness just to get everyone racing their game. He really focuses on, if you have a bad weekend, he’s really focused on trying to make it better. That’s something that I really admire.”