Saturday, at Atlanta Motor Speedway, William Byron did not sound like a driver that was overly worried about a 100-point, 10 Playoff Point penalty that was dished out to his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team and his three teammates following illegal hood louvers that were confiscated by NASCAR at Phoenix Raceway.
Instead, Byron sounded ultra-confident. And he has great reason to feel that way. The 25-year-old racer has won the last two NASCAR Cup Series events, and he’s heading into a track — Atlanta Motor Speedway — where he won a season ago. He’s a legitimate threat to win three NASCAR Cup races in a row.
“…just ready for this weekend,” Byron said during his media availability. “We have more to prove and we’ll just keep going. It’s good to get two in a row the last couple of weeks, I feel like we’re on a good roll. This is a really good race track for us, we won here last year.”
But Byron isn’t merely confident in his chances at another win in Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400. The North Carolina native is mightily confident in his team’s chances of getting its massive penalties reduced or even reversed once the case is taken to the National Motorsports Appeals Panel.
“I can’t say the details of the penalty of what all goes on there, but certainly excited for the appeal and everything that comes with that,” Byron explained.
Byron continued, “[I] Was excited and looking forward to hearing Chad [Knaus]’s comments yesterday and all of that was good. Looking forward to the appeal.”
If you aren’t privy to the comments that came from Chad Knaus on Friday, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief and Hendrick Motorsports VP of competition lashed out at the single source part suppliers that were selected by NASCAR when the sanctioning body instituted the new Next Gen race cars.
“Nobody is holding the single-source providers accountable at the level that they need to be, to give us the parts that we need,” Knaus lamented. “That goes through NASCAR’s distribution center and NASCAR’s approval process to get those parts, and we’re not getting the right parts.”
But regardless of whether the No. 24 team wins its appeal or not, it doesn’t faze Byron one bit. He’s in the zone, and he feels his team can completely erase the 100-point deficit that it accrued with the penalty.
“Certainly the points are something that we just adjust to,” Byron said. “It’s early in the season. Cars are extremely fast. We obviously had the pace last weekend to win regardless. I think that’s going to continue. And with that pace, we’re just going to use it to our advantage to make up points. We didn’t intend on really relaxing after a win anyways this year.
“We’re going to just give it everything every week. We had a great week of preparation. Lots of time in the sim, and a lot of time at the shop. Just excited for all of that to continue.”
Byron is having fun being a dominant force in the NASCAR Cup Series this season and no sanctions from the sanctioning body will diminish that for the young racer. He’s going to keep chasing the rabbit, and NASCAR’s bevy of penalties have done nothing but put another chip on Byron’s shoulder.
“Look, I really get excited about coming to the race track right now. If anything, it just shows we aren’t there yet. We have more to prove and we have more to go out there and accomplish,” Byron said. “I think that’s a dangerous thing. We have a goal in mind, a specific goal to win every week. And we’re going to keep pushing for that every single week.”
He may be 100 points down from where he was at the conclusion of Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway, and he may not have his crew chief Rudy Fugle on the pit box, as Fugle is serving the first of a four-race suspension this weekend, but Byron is acting like a guy who has been given a two lap headstart.
Keep an eye on William Byron as he chases his third-consecutive victory in Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.