The pressure is back on rookie driver William Byron and he's happy about it. Byron had been guaranteed to advance to the "Round of 6" following his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon back in September. Although he tried to win the next two races, he also knew he had nothing to lose if he did not win. This weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway his safety net is gone. As the Round of 6 begins, nobody is safe.
Byron goes into Martinsville as the top seed since he was the only driver to win a race in the first round of the Chase. He has one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race under his firesuit belt at the half-mile track. He finished third there in April and feels confident he can improve on that this weekend. He will be racing the same Liberty University Tundra he ran in the spring. This particular Tundra also took him to Victory Lane at Iowa Speedway in June.
Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) knows a thing, or five, about winning at Martinsville. KBM has five wins, 13 top-five, 20 top-10 finishes and led 626 laps in 29 starts at "the paperclip." Denny Hamlin won in 2011-2012, Darrell Wallace Jr., in 2013-2014 and owner-driver Kyle Busch won a grandfather clock for the first time in April.
If Byron can win his seventh race of the season this weekend, it will advance him to the Round of 4 to compete for the championship at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. If not, there is always next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth where he already donned a cowboy hat in Victory Lane earlier this year. With such strong performances the first time he raced a Tundra at both of these tracks, it will be interesting to see what Byron can do the second time around.