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DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - AUGUST 29: William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, celebrates with his team after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on August 29, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) | Getty Images
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - AUGUST 29: William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, celebrates with his team after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on August 29, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) | Getty Images

William Byron Daytona post-race interview transcript

An interview with:  WILLIAM BYRON

 

THE MODERATOR:  Thank you for taking the time to join us.  Congratulations on the win, the Playoff berth, everything.  Can you walk us through how you’re feeling right now.

WILLIAM BYRON:  Well, incredible.  On Cloud 9 for sure.  There was a point in that race that I didn’t really think things were going to work out in our favor to make the Playoffs, really have an opportunity next week.  This was kind of one of those do‑or‑die situations.  Kind of crossed that fork in the road tonight.  We were able to be aggressive and make it happen.

Really just the final probably 10 laps of the race I was on offense, trying to just win the race and take whatever run I could.  Luckily was able to make the moves that I needed to.  Got just enough daylight between the 22 and the 43 to kind of split that gap.  I pushed the 43 really aggressively up, and he had done a great job to hold onto his car, get us to that place and position.

From there, the next restart got a great push from the 14.  I was fortunate that things worked out to where I had the 9 with me on the last lap, was able to make it work.

Just incredible.  Don’t even know what to say really.  It’s a huge blessing.

THE MODERATOR:  We’ll open up the floor for questions.

 

Can you describe your emotions from the first red flag where things didn’t look that great to the finish where you score your first career win and get in the Playoffs?

WILLIAM BYRON:  Honestly the emotions for me were just to make it happen, try to get where I needed to be.  I was taking every single run in the last five, six laps of that race.  I think that’s what you’re supposed to do.  It’s what Dale Jr. has taught me at JRM days.  Really was able to work it out.

Very fortunate that the runs did work out because a lot of times they don’t.  This time they did, so it was great.

 

The first year that this race was at Daytona, end‑of‑the‑season race.  Can you imagine it being more pressure filled or were you relaxed throughout?

WILLIAM BYRON:  You couldn’t have picked a more pressure‑packed race.  When you’re at a superspeedway, the running order changes every two laps practically, it’s incredible to put that much pressure on a couple of points.  You really can’t points race, which I think is probably what they want us to do.  They want us to go for wins, try to compete hard.  It was a perfect format for that.

I’m fortunate that worked out for us.  I probably would have been frustrated if it didn’t.  It really forces your hand to go for the win.  You just got to go all out.  Pretty incredible.

Kind of elimination style race this was tonight.  I think it prepares us for the future eliminations coming up in the Playoffs.  Really had the feeling of what it was like being in the Xfinity championship race.  Was pretty crazy out there.

 

Back to Dover, first race, it was a struggle for you guys.  On the radio you were pretty frustrated with each other.  Was there a conversation between you and Chad after that race to clear the air?

WILLIAM BYRON:  Yeah, I mean, I think through those situations, they’re not pretty.  It was the worst time of the year to have a bad race like that.  We learned more about each other in those moments, in those situations.

I think I learned a little bit about him, what things I could learn, how to communicate better.  He learned a little bit about me, as well.  I think that’s what’s propelled us into this hot streak we’re on.

We had a fourth on Sunday, then under pressure ‑‑ both races were under extreme pressure and we executed.  That’s a good sign for what’s coming up.

 

You talked about learning.  What did you learn about him and he about you?

WILLIAM BYRON:  Just tones, what information is helpful, what’s not.  It’s not personal by any means.  It’s just what’s helpful.  What can I do to help him get the car better, and what can he do to help me.

We had a phenomenal run on Sunday at Dover, drove from I think we started 23rd and finished fourth.  That was a great run.  Come here and win the race is incredible.  Thankful for his support.  Just really blessed.

 

Chad is an intense competitor.  Is it hard to match that intensity, have a crew chief that is telling you what to do, sometimes maybe too much?

WILLIAM BYRON:  It’s not hard.  He just wants it as bad as I do.  Some crew chiefs I guess are a little bit more laid back.  I don’t know.  We both want it really bad.  We want to try to win races and keep it going.

 

We’re going back a couple years, but when you first entered the Cup Series, did you imagine getting your first win a little bit earlier?  Did you ever question yourself and think if you could really get it done?

WILLIAM BYRON:  No, I think you just got to capitalize, given the opportunity.  The opportunities in the Cup Series to win races, it’s hard.  You just got to capitalize.  It came together tonight.  We capitalized.

I don’t know.  It’s the best series, really it’s tough out there.  You got to fight really hard.  I’ve learned a lot, learned a lot about how to get to that next step.  So hopefully we just keep it going.

 

After 98 tries, when you crossed the finish line, what was the first thought that popped into your head?

WILLIAM BYRON:  The Playoffs.  I guess just thinking about that.  Honestly the first thought probably was just how excited I knew that my team was, how excited Tab was on the radio, how excited Chad was, how excited I was.

That feeling of coming off four, it’s just a shot of adrenaline right into your arm, it really is.  It’s just an incredible feeling.  I can’t describe winning a race in NASCAR.  It’s been a while, so it just is an awesome feeling.

 

Before today where would you have expected to get your first Cup win if not Daytona?

WILLIAM BYRON:  I didn’t really expect it anywhere.  I think this was probably a great opportunity for it.  I didn’t really expect it anywhere.  I think we came really close at Martinsville last year racing Truex, ironically racing Martin again tonight.

I don’t know.  Whenever you’re really, really close, you got to capitalize.  Definitely thankful that it worked out tonight.

 

With 15 to go, late in the race, the call to bring your car down pit road, was there any emotions behind the wheel thinking the chance to make the Playoffs was out the window at that point?

WILLIAM BYRON:  No.  I mean, I think Chad and I had a good plan going in that we wanted to be able to be aggressive.  We ran quite a bit of laps on those tires, some pretty hard ones, two‑ and three‑wide at the front.  I think it was the right call.

Yeah, it was pretty jammed up and hard to get back up towards the front.  But there’s always a lot of laps left at these tracks.  I really think the good fortune of the race was when we missed that wreck.  I just had a feeling after missing that wreck that we were in a good position.  We kind of crossed that one hurdle that seems to take at this track to really win races.  As soon as you do that you kind of got to capitalize on it.

I knew once we got to two or three to go we had a great opportunity.  Typically there’s some things that happen on that final restart that I’ve noticed.  We were just in the right position.  Kind of being second there might have been the better position to be in.  We’re really fortunate that worked out, the 14 was pushing us, then just had to be aggressive.

 

With all of the strategizing on superspeedways, how important is the spotter and the crew chief encouraging you on?

WILLIAM BYRON:  I think it’s probably the most critical thing on the speedway, knowing where other cars are in terms of whether that comes from your spotter or the mirror.  I feel like it’s a little bit of both.  You use your spotter as a guide.  It’s kind of 50% of the equation.  The other equation is your mirrors.

I think we try to spend a lot of time in the shop getting that stuff right.  It paid off tonight, just knowing where other cars are, especially in the last couple laps, being able to watch your mirrors.

iRacing has some good programs on there for the realism aspect of the visuals.  Kind of learned some things off of that, too.

 

Do you feel if you had not taken the move between the 22 and the 43 that you would have likely been involved?

WILLIAM BYRON:  I don’t really know what happened.  I don’t know if I directly caused it or not.  Sure I had a role because cars were bouncing off me both sides.

They bounced off each other.  The 22 made a late block.  They bounced off each other.  I had already pushed the 43 into that hole, so I was committed.

At that point not the middle but daylight opened up between the two cars after they bounced off each other.  They kind of separated.  I had enough of a run to stick in it there and complete it practically.  I was going to go for that because I needed the points and I needed to try to finish the race in first, second or third.  I really had that in mind.

As soon as that happened I really went for it.  Then the final restart was really me versus Denny and the 19.  It came down to just a couple guys.  I had to try to make it happen there, too.

 

How much information did you get from Tab to get through that wreck?  Did you go through it with both eyes open?

WILLIAM BYRON:  I did.  Tab played a really big role there.  I mean, he said to go low before I even thought about going low.  I was kind of in the middle of the track.  I was on the top of three‑wide.  I just made a move on the 19 to get to the outside of him into turn three.  I saw the 18 start to smoke up there.  I was hoping he would hold it against the wall and not cause a wreck.  I think a wreck happened right behind him.

However it formed, those guys just started to kind of go up against the wall.  I still had enough momentum to kind of try to get by it.  Tab said to go low and gas it up.  He was really on his game there.  You just got to go for any daylight that you see, just hope it works out.

Luckily the 37 kind of went back up the track, I gassed it up to get by.  It just worked out.  It was incredible really.  I think that was a turning point for sure.  Very fortunate that worked out to allow us to have an opportunity.

 

You alluded earlier how the first thought in your mind was you were in the Playoffs.  That starts next week.  Is it difficult to get your first win, have to quickly shift focus to race in the Playoffs?

WILLIAM BYRON:  I mean, fortunately we have pretty long weeks now with no practice and qualifying.  Kind of get a few days to take it in.  I think we get two more days than normal.  Got Sunday tomorrow, which I’m probably going to hang out with some buddies, try to have a good time.  Then Monday, Tuesday we’ll get ready for Darlington.

We had a pretty good car there.  We’re going to make some improvements.  Darlington is a track we traditionally have run well at.  Looking forward to that one, for sure.

 

When you look back on this race 20 years down the road, what are you going to remember most about it?

WILLIAM BYRON:  Just the excitement of crossing the line.  It’s been a long time coming for this win in the Cup Series.  I was thinking the other day before this race actually just how long it’s actually been since I’ve won a race.  I’ve really been wanting to win and have that feeling again of adrenaline.

The Duel this year was kind of half of that, I’d say, three‑quarters of that feeling.  I just want that feeling again.  This is awesome, man.  It’s going to be great to celebrate with my family.  Just extremely blessed and fortunate that it worked out.

THE MODERATOR:  William, thank you so much for taking the time to join us.  Congratulations on the win.  We will see you at Darlington.

WILLIAM BYRON:  Thanks, guys.

— NASCAR —