WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 RAPTOR HIGH HEAT CAMARO ZL1, met with the media prior to the NASCAR Cup Series’ qualifying session at Atlanta Motor Speedway – Media Availability Quotes

I think the consensus is that you’re one of the more quiet guys in the garage. From the Netflix show to doing all of the media in New York after winning the Daytona 500, how has that experience been for you?

“Yeah, it’s been fun. I enjoyed all of the stuff that I got to do this week, especially because it’s something unique and different, and I felt like it was really interesting. There were a lot of interesting questions and just different outlets trying to learn about the sport. I tried my best to do a good job. Obviously I was running off adrenaline for two or three days, and we’re back to the race track now and ready to get to work.

I enjoyed it. As much as I am quiet, I feel like most of my quiet time is spent at the race track when I’m trying to do my work and focusing on my job.”

It was referenced that you were in New York. I want to say you’ve been there before, but I know this is a pretty intense experience for you. How as the media tour and how did you enjoy your experience in New York City?

“Yeah, so my sister lives up there and I go up there and visit her probably once a year. But yeah, I enjoyed it a lot. Like I said, there were a lot of cool outlets. I think the best way to go around New York is in a car service with going place-to-place (laughs). We didn’t have to walk anywhere, so it was a very unique situation. But very cool and just thankful for NASCAR that they put that together. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go getting on the plane Monday night. I was a little nervous about it all, but I thought they managed it really well. It was super smooth. The Empire State Building was probably one of the coolest aspects, just being able to go up there and see the views.”

You mentioned all of the different media outlets trying to learn about NASCAR. The thing about winning the Daytona 500 is that it’s really transformative, in the sense that it takes someone in the sport to entirely new level and you’re serving as an ambassador for NASCAR. Have you started to grasp exactly what being the Daytona 500 Champion has done and will do for you?

“I don’t think so.. not yet. There’s just a lot of different aspects to it. I feel like the big thing for us is being able to start the year like that with a lot of momentum, for a lot of different reasons – for our team and to be able to lock ourselves into the Playoffs, and also for sponsor engagement and things like that. I feel like for me personally, it’s a huge relief and something I’m really excited to carry down the road.”

You’ve had great success here at Atlanta Motor Speedway. How do you negotiate the two different pit road speeds – from the time you get off the track, how do you know how fast you’re going? Do you have two sets of lights? Do you downshift during the 90mph section, that sort of stuff?

“That’s a great question. You know, what I vividly remember from last year – it’s just coming off turn two, there’s a couple of brake markers. I feel like they did a good job last year kind of bringing those brake markers into play. Typically we don’t use the left-side of the track to really judge where we’re going to brake for pit road on an oval. It’s very unique. And like you said, you’re not getting down to 45 mph.. you’re getting down to 90 mph, so the gearing is a lot different. The lights are built way differently. I think we chose to go with third gear this time. Last time, we were in fourth. So I feel like just trying to understand the cadence there. My engineers sent me a bunch of stuff.. some layouts to make sure I’m aware of what lights I need to run. But the biggest thing is don’t speed because under green, that section is not that important in comparison to being a couple of laps down here. If you go a couple of laps down with how long that pit road is now, your race is ruined. So you just have to not speed.”

Your father couldn’t be at Daytona. What was it like when you finally saw him for the first time?

“Yeah, so I didn’t see him until later in the week. He’s better now, he just had a pretty severe cold. But yeah, the coolest part was I was driving home from the shop on Wednesday afternoon after we did the toast. It was maybe our second or third conversation on the phone, but we were just talking about the race and something came up about racing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. – how in 2014, that was the last time that Hendrick Motorsports had won a Daytona 500, and that’s when I was driving for Dale in the late models. He was just super emotional. I’ve never really heard him get that choked up over the phone, but it was really special to hear that. Just having been through this journey with him and going to the race track every weekend together starting out, it was very special.”

I was told it took the Netflix deal for you to get into the door with LEGO. Is that accurate?

“Yeah, I mean we’re working on it, for sure. I’d love to have a LEGO car out there. I think they do so many unique things with that design. Certainly, still going to build.. need to work on my next project here soon. I have some ideas. They are going to send me quite a few sets, so that’ll be nice. No more eBay.. I usually go on eBay and get the LEGO sets because they’re backordered.”

You have two wins here at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the reconfiguration, so obviously you’re comfortable with the high banks on a 1.5-mile track. I get the idea that maybe that’s not the consensus in the garage. Do you hear varying views on this track?

“Yeah, I mean look – we’ve been really fortunate that it’s worked out for us a couple of times. The first win, we were pretty dominate here – led over 100 laps and put ourselves in a good position. But since then, it’s gotten even more chaotic. It’s two to three wide and it seems like everyone has really figured out the draft here. It’s unique, for sure. I wouldn’t want to do it every week, but I do enjoy the challenge of it. I think it’s a super exciting show for the fans. If you think about the attendance here when it was the old layout, and seeing how packed it was here in July – it seems like the fans like it. Like I said, I don’t want to do it every week, but I enjoy the aspect of drafting, lifting a little bit and all the different things that come with it.”

With two superspeedway, drafting tracks, back-to-back – do you anticipate it will be a bigger mental or physical toll after tomorrow’s race?

“Yeah, I mean look – in the offseason, I was like man, don’t crash in the first two races because you’re going to be pretty beat up. Yeah, I think it’ll be physical, for sure, if you’re in some crashes. But this track isn’t overly physical.. it’s kind of right there in the middle, I would say. But as we get to some of the short-tracks, really the schedule in March and April, you’ll need to be prepared for those. But we’ve got a little ways to go, so there’s still some training and preparation to try and get ready for that stretch.”

For the fact that this track is now in the Playoffs and you’re locked-in, does that allow you to try something or does that change the dynamic at all for you?

“Yeah, I mean it just makes the race a little more important for us. We just have to have a notebook for this race, so we need to understand what our setup needs to be and kind of tinker with that going back here in the fall. We can’t really try much here because we want to have a good data point for the fall and know – hey, our car drove pretty well. A lot is out of your control here, but hopefully we can have a good driving Chevy, good strategy and just get a little bit of an idea for the fall.”

If it wasn’t in the playoffs, you could potentially experiment more?

“Yeah, I think you wouldn’t put a whole lot of weight on it, especially coming off a win. Last year here, we just had the point penalty, so we had a lot of making up to do. But this year and already being locked into the playoffs, there’s a new importance to it.”

Is there anything that can be looked out or considered that would allow you guys not to be as focused or concerned about fuel saving in a speedway-type of race?

“Yeah, it’s a very complex problem because I think anytime you shorten the amount of fuel that you have in the cars, you’re just going to make the windows smaller. And then you’re going to have the same issue or the same thing happening, where you’re trying to have a shorter pit stop. It’s just evolution and technology.. it’s really just us figuring out what the best strategy is. I’m surprised it wasn’t more of a thing earlier on, but I think with this package and with track position being so important with there being so much drag on the car and really two-wide – it’s very difficult just to shoot your way to the front from the back. I don’t know what the adjustment is that needs to be made. It’s not the most fun thing to do, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to win the race. I feel like we were pretty smart about it. If you look at our average running position last week, it wasn’t what people would think. But we would always cycle forward; have a chance to race it out for the stage win and have a chance at the end. I’m just going to do whatever the rules tell me to do.”

As you look at someone trying a similar career path as yours and not getting directly in a car first, what do you see as far as that next group of drivers coming up? What would be advice to them as they start their career and the path you did, versus being in a car first?

“I think just having fun with it. Like what I see from a lot of young kids, going to the carting track and racing on iRacing – people are just taking it way too seriously, way too soon. I feel like you just have to really enjoy what you do – try to learn and try to get better as a driver and learn more about the sport. And then eventually, by the time you get to this level, you’re going to feel a lot of pressure. I think not putting too much pressure on yourself at an early age to try to be the best. I think just try to get out there and experience things; enjoy driving the race car and see what you can do with it.”