‘The competition will be forced to deal with us’ - Byron

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‘The competition will be forced to deal with us’ - Byron


‘The competition will be forced to deal with us’ - Byron


If there are still people who aren’t paying attention to William Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team, he plans on changing that soon.

“As soon as we win another race — hopefully soon — you guys will be forced to talk about us, and the competition will be forced to deal with us,” Byron said Wednesday.

But the competition should already know they have to deal with Byron as he might be the hottest driver in the NASCAR Cup Series right now. Going into Kansas Speedway (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, Fox), Byron is riding a string of eight consecutive top-eight finishes that began with a dominant win at Homestead-Miami Speedway at the end of February.

Eight top-10 finishes in 10 races tie Byron with point leader Denny Hamlin for the most in the series. Byron is fourth in the point standings. Not only does that make Byron the highest-sitting Chevrolet driver, but he is leading the way of the four Hendrick drivers (Chase Elliott is eighth, Kyle Larson ninth, and Alex Bowman 14th).

“I think we’re running well,” Byron continued. “We’re in the mix every week. I feel like the competition around us probably knows that and understands that. So, I think it’s just a matter of continuing to execute and put ourselves in position to make ourselves have a chance at winning more races.

“Honestly, I don’t focus much on the other people we are racing against. I just focus on doing what we can to try to win. We’re doing that every week so far.”

Byron’s top 10 streak is the longest by a Hendrick driver since Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned eight consecutive top-10 finishes between Talladega at the end of 2013 and Las Vegas at the start of 2014.

Communication and chemistry are the keys to success, according to Byron. Rudy Fugle, who took over as crew chief this season, is not only overseeing the building of fast race cars but he’s brought a renewed vigor to the group.

“Everything is going better this year,” said Byron.

And, Byron is finding his place. The 23-year-old admitted that he felt uncomfortable when he entered the Cup Series two years ago. The transition from the Xfinity Series, where he won the championship in 2017, to Cup is difficult, and Byron had quite a bit of relearning to do.

Now that the learning curve is over, not only does Byron feel more comfortable, but that has translated into results. It has also raised his confidence level, knowing he’ll have cars capable of contending each week.

“I show up to the track every week now knowing that I can prepare the way that I have been and have success,” he said. “So honestly, just keep preparing the way that I’ve been doing it — a little bit of iRacing, a little bit of film, and talking with my guys.

“We have great meetings throughout the week. So, we’ve got a really good system going. I feel like we’re able to go to every racetrack and kind of build on what we’ve been doing.”

Byron starts second Sunday afternoon at Kansas.