William Byron hopeful an Atlanta return kickstarts second-half boost

·2 min read
William Byron hopeful an Atlanta return kickstarts second-half boost

William Byron, 24, is hopeful that this return visit to Atlanta Motor Speedway may kickstart another solid run to close out the regular season. His victory in March and a second at Martinsville Speedway only three weeks later made the Hendrick Motorsports driver the first multi-race winner of the 2022 season.

But after that April 9 win at Martinsville, Byron didn‘t score another top-10 for eight weeks — a ninth-place run two months later on the Sonoma, Calif. road course. That finish — three weeks ago — is his only top-10 now in a span of 10 races.

RELATED: Elliott on pole after rainout | See full Atlanta lineup

A good showing this weekend at Atlanta would go a long way toward righting the ship for the No. 24 Chevrolet team. And there‘s plenty of reasons to believe that‘s possible. Byron says he‘s become a student of big-track racing and concedes the right mindset really helps.

His results would indicate as much. Byron earned his first-career NASCAR Cup Series win at Daytona International Speedway in the August 2020 regular-season finale.

Seven of his 25 career top-five NASCAR Cup Series finishes — plus a pair of Xfinity Series wins – have come on tracks at least 2.5 miles (Daytona, Talladega, Ala., Pocono, Pa. and Indianapolis).

“When I was starting out, like going back to the first truck race on a superspeedway, I was really nervous, timid, didn‘t make a lot of moves and I ended up getting into someone else‘s crash,‘‘ Byron acknowledged Saturday.

“So I was just like, ‘man, this just doesn‘t make any sense. I feel so timid. I feel so nervous the whole time‘. So I just started to take a more aggressive approach to try and learn. Knowing that the outcome might be the same — maybe I‘m going to crash or whatnot at the end of the race — but at least I‘ve learned something throughout the race and don‘t feel like I‘m just a passenger in the pack.

“I hated that feeling of just feeling like I was going to ride around and hope for the best. That didn‘t sit well for me so I just took a more aggressive approach.‘‘