WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1, met with the media Friday ahead of the first practice sessions for the NASCAR All-Star Race. Press Conference Transcript:
GIVE US YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS OF WALKING IN TODAY.
“It’s cool to see all the Cup cars and Trucks here. The garage is amazing… really well-done. Just the asphalt and layout of it. It’s a tight-orders area, really similar to Martinsville in that sense. It’s nice to see all the nice cars. I’m just excited for the All-Star race. I think it’s going to be super-exciting for the fans – the different places you can watch the race from. The overall area around the track looks great, so I’m excited.”
ON ATTENDING THE CAROLINA HURRICANES GAME THURSDAY.
“Unfortunately we had to leave early. I was there through the first overtime and watched the end of the game. That’s why my voice sounds the way it does. I watched it and it was tough. Four overtimes and it was about 2 in the morning. We’ll move on to the next game, I guess. They played really hard. I got some inspiration from watching that, definitely.”
WHAT KIND OF SHAPE ARE YOU IN TODAY?
“I feel fine. All I have to do is sit and push some pedals and steer a wheel. If it were hot out, it would be worse but I’ll be fine. I’ll do my tire runs and give some good feedback on the Truck and the Cup car.”
DID YOU HAVE A SET TIME THAT YOU TOLD YOURSELF YOU HAD TO LEAVE OR WAS THERE SOMEONE WHO WAS THERE TO PULL YOU FROM THE SEAT?
“I had a nice ride up there thanks to Mr. H (Rick Hendrick). So I had a good seat and a good opportunity to go up there and watch the game. Unfortunately I had to come back home but I think it was for the better for the sanity of my race teams today so I could be ready for practice. Tough to watch it, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I told someone that it felt like I was getting ready for the 600 because it was the same distance.”
ON THE PIT CREW CHALLENGE AND IT BEING PART OF THE ALL-STAR WEEKEND.
“I’m excited about it. Those guys have a swagger about them. They’ve been fast on pit road all year. We’ve been top-two I think in pit road time, so I’m hoping I don’t screw it up and slide through the pitbox. Honestly, that would be an embarrassing thing for the team. Hopefully I don’t screw it up and those guys can go to work and I can launch out of the pit stall. I think it’ll be fun. I grew up watching the All-Star competition at the Hornets arena and loved that, so I’m excited it's coming back in a form like it is and that it holds some importance in the overall race.”
ROLE OF THE DRIVER IN THE PIT STOP SEQUENCE.
“My job on this pit crew deal is get into the pitbox as fast as I can. I’ll be kicking myself if I do it wrong. The way it’s laid out, you have a staging area where you launch and try to get there as fast as you can because there’s no speed limit. I think the more speed, probably the better in terms of getting to the line quickly. But you also don’t want to be off the marks either. Each week it’s important to be on the marks. It’s really critical for those guys to get set up right so they don’t have to adjust. Hopefully I do all that right.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONSHIP IS ATTAINABLE IF YOU KEEP PERFORMING THE WAY YOU’RE PERFORMING?
“We certainly do. That’s the ultimate goal for us in this part of the season. Just to accumulate as many bonus points as possible. After Phoenix or after COTA, we really started to see that we could put together consistently high-points races with stage finishes and stuff like that. When we got knocked down in points, the goal was to get to eighth by the 600, so we got that back. I feel like we’re where we need to be. A lot of people talk about the 600 being the benchmark for being close on points because it does get thinned out after that throughout the summer. We need to be in the top four or five at this point, and we’re doing what we need to do. Next week is a big points race. You’ve got the four stages and its long runs, so we need to make sure we bring a really good car to the 600 to kind of get those stage points. Obviously the goal is to win, but points are really important.”
“Not surprised because of the strength of the team. At the time, it was discouraging to look at the points standings and be like, ‘Ah shoot, we’re 18th now.’ I think realistically if you put one step at a time together, you can start to point your way back forward. Nobody was really separated at the beginning of the year. There was a lot of attrition in some of the races, so it allowed the points to be pretty close. The leader only had maybe a 20-point advantage. It’s still really tight between the top eight guys.”
IF WE DON’T SEE SHIFTING, HOW MUCH MORE VALUABLE WILL THAT BE TO THE RACING?
“It will be tough to want to shift this weekend. The length of the straightaways has a lot to do with it, as well. Martinsville being tight corners and long straightaways, it gets you in that RPM range where you have that other gear to work with. I don’t think you’re going to shift this weekend. I think you’re going to ride around there in fourth gear and maybe shift to fifth all the way around to save the tires more. It might actually work the opposite of what we normally have with wanting less RPMs to save the rear tires. Who knows? Maybe we start shifting if the pace is fast but I think you’re going to run around there in fourth.”
VALUE OF CREATING WEEK-LONG MOTORSPORTS WEEK IN NORTH CAROLINA.
“I think it’s great. That’s what I grew up with was the All-Star race at Charlotte. I know that the race there at times wasn’t the best, so we had to make adjustments. Now that we’ve gotten these short tracks back in order, it creates an awesome opportunity to have these Late Model shows on the same week and transition our way through all three touring series and get our way to the main feature on Sunday. It gives the fans the chance to understand what some of these Late Model guys do and how good they are. It puts everything in an order that builds up to Sunday. That’s great. I hope we get a lot of fan engagement over these next two weeks to build up some of these local races and take it to the big track.”
THE EMOTION OF WATCHING PLAYOFF HOCKEY TO GOING FOR A WIN.
“It is comparable. I watch that and I study kind of what the strategy is. Jordan Martinook (Carolina winger) and I have started to text a little bit here and there, and he had a lot of goals in the last series. I love watching their mannerisms and how they handle adversity. I think I can learn from things they do on the ice and how to handle different challenges. I was watching that game just to see how tired they got. It was interesting to me. The same thing happens in a long race. You get tired to a certain point and then you start to get this second wind and you kind of come back up. They could have played for four more periods, it seemed like. Just the adrenaline and way your body maintains that level. That was interesting to me, and they talked about that on the broadcast. You could see that the players weren’t really getting tired after awhile. That was interesting. Kind of the same thing happens in the car.”
HOW ARE YOU BETTER NOW IN THIS STRETCH COMPARED TO A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO WITH 11 TOP-10s IN A ROW?
“I think I’m more diverse than I was back then. My knowledge of racing in general wasn’t that high. My decision-making was a little bit naïve at times. I just went with the conservative decisions sometimes. I would finish in the top-10, but I would not really know what I need or be comfortable with what I needed to do on the track. I think my decision-making now is a lot more confident because I’ve been in a lot of diverse situations through Late Models, through Trucks and Xfinity. I have enough racing knowledge now to know where my decisions come from a place of more confidence. I used to make decisions to make just the right move. Now I’m confident in the things that I do.”
LOOKING BACK TO DARLINGTON, IS THERE AN EXAMPLE OF SOMETHING YOU DID THERE THAT A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN MORE CONSERVATIVE WITH?
“I used to set my car up at Darlington just to manage the whole race and be there at the end. I think now I set my car up a little bit differently to be maybe a little more aggressive, running against the fence more often because there is a little bit more speed up there. To run against the fence all day, it takes a certain level of focus and dedication to that, so you can’t be conservative doing that. I had a lot of success early in my career at Darlington running off the wall and being a little more competitive. It yielded top-six or top-seven finishes, but it didn’t yield the top-two or top-three finishes. The line I run at Darlington has changed from what I used to do. It’s a lot more aggressive and takes a lot more focus. And the decisions at the end on the restarts… it’s studying that, knowing those situations and knowing what move to make comes with experience.”
“I had to adjust and it can, but you can also damage the toe in these cars. You can do a lot of damage. I don’t think we really hit the wall on Sunday, so our car was in good condition. Yeah in the old car, you hit the wall and you had a flat tire. But with this car, there is still some damage to be done… the toe-link bending when you hit the wall.”
YOU MENTIONED BEING EXCITED TO BE HERE. WHAT IS IT THAT EXCITES YOU THE MOST ABOUT BEING AT NORTH WILKESBORO?
“I grew up down the road, so as I touch some of these racetracks that I grew up and hearing stories about, it’s great. Stefan Parsons and I are really good buddies, and we grew up racing Legends cars. Every time we’d go to ski up in the mountains, we’d pass North Wilkesboro and he’d have a story about Benny or Phil racing here, and I was always kind of like, ‘I’ve never seen this place.’ I had only seen the sign outside as you go down the highway. It’s cool for me to see the place now and get some idea of all these historic places that I live right around. It’s just a different vibe when I get in the car to drive up here. I feel like I go back in time a little bit, and it makes me a fan again of what we do. I just think that’s cool versus going to … no offense to going to Kansas or somewhere, I love that place, but it doesn’t have a lot of history to me.”