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.
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.‘‘