Being a rookie can be tough enough in a new racing series. Learning the new tracks, the driving styles of your competitors and how to communicate with your team are just a few of the obstacles a rookie must overcome. William Byron seems to be handling all of that very well with three wins under his firesuit belt already this season, and the playing field may be more level this weekend since nearly everyone will be a rookie on the newly paved surface at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
Byron gained experience at Kentucky when he competed in the ARCA Racing Series last September. After being second fastest in practice he won the pole, but the team elected to start at the back of the field due to a tire rub. Unfortunately, Byron was collected in a first-lap accident in front of him and never completed a lap in the race. Even if he had completed all the laps, that experience would have been on the old, bumpy surface and likely not helpful to him after wholesale changes to the track in the off-season.
Now Byron returns to Kentucky in a new series with a new track surface. With no personal experience on the new surface, his best source of advice is his owner and on-track competitor for the race, Kyle Busch. Busch participated in a two-day Sprint Cup Series tire test at Kentucky in June, so he has first-hand knowledge of what to expect from the new pavement.
Byron will also be driving a proven Toyota Tundra for the 150-lap event Thursday night. KBM-021 has eight wins in 15 starts. Byron has driven it twice this year at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February where he was forced out of the race with engine issues while running second, and Charlotte Motor Speedway in May where he led 25 laps and finished 10th.
With the new surface and a winning Tundra, Byron hopes to show the Bluegrass State the true meaning of horsepower on Thursday night.