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Winner’s Circle: Byron Reaffirms Winning Ways for Hendrick

William Byron returned Hendrick Motorsports to the winner's circle. (Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

William Byron returned Hendrick Motorsports to the winner’s circle. (Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

LAS VEGAS – Between the 330 days since William Byron’s fourth and fifth career Cup wins, it has been a series of maddening times for the No. 24 team.

Sure, the 25-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina made his presence known with a sixth place points finish last year. Still, the team had more potential that they did not quite extract for a possible Championship 4 spot.

Fast forward to the 2023 Pennzoil 400, the third round of the NASCAR Cup Series season. Like last year, Byron kicked off his championship quest behind the curve ranked 29th in the points standings.

Despite the victory drought and tough start to 2023, Byron remained upbeat about his chances to win during the West Coast Swing.

“Yeah, I personally think just from being out there, everyone gets more dialed in to what the track and the car needs,” Byron said. I think there was so much unknowns last year that it created guys bottoming out, wrecking, guys making big mistakes that you don’t normally see at this level with how good everyone is.”

Perhaps Byron did not realize how stellar his No. 24 team would be at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Rolling off from the second starting position, the sixth year Cup racer knew he had to have a virtually flawless afternoon against the heavy competition.

Byron rarely put a foot wrong at Las Vegas. (Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish

Byron rarely put a foot wrong at Las Vegas. (Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish

“Now, the drivers are back to understanding what they have, and these are the best guys out there,” he said. “You don’t make mistakes. To race against Kyle Larson, he doesn’t make any mistakes that really cost him time. It’s just kind of the excellence on display of the teams and drivers.”

By all means, Byron demonstrated how excellent his No. 24 Chevy Camaro was around the 1.5-mile speedway. Whether on the high or low lane, there was little stopping Byron on Sunday afternoon.

“I think I haven’t really dominated — I’ve led a lot of laps in a couple races, but to be this good in a race with our team is definitely a good sign,” he said. “I think it’s just a different feeling, I think, for me, just having a team around me that can execute that well on pit road that well, strategy that good on adjustments.

“That’s just a team effort. I think that’s a different — something different than I’ve had in the past in terms of wins, so that’s nice.”

A team effort was on display despite Rudy Fugle, Byron’s crew chief, not feeling well on race day. A great setup in conjunction with a fast car and steady wheelman spells trouble for the competition.

“I felt like in practice we had a good car,” Byron said. “I was a little bit nervous about the wind today and how that would change what we had going on and whether or not we’d be as strong, but just kind of the consensus, I guess, in the garage and then talking to some of the drivers, they were pretty confident about what we had going on. I was happy about that.”

Zig, zag, Byron's getting some Vegas cash. (Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

Zig, zag, Byron’s getting some Vegas cash. (Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

“Yeah, started the race good. I thought Kyle was really strong. He could stay close to me for a lot of the runs in the first and second stage, and I felt like I was a little bit tight, but just trying to navigate lap traffic and navigate the wind and how that would change the handling.”

After enduring a tough start to the season, Byron and his No. 24 have righted their ship. Now, it is a matter of time before Byron racks up multiple wins in the same season.

“Yeah, just happy with getting the first win of the year,” he said. “It’s been a while since we’ve won. It’s been almost a year, and it’s nice to kind of just get back to what I feel like we’re capable of. Yeah, it’s been up and down, but I feel like this is what we’re capable of every week.”

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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