WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1 AND THE NO. 17 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO SS, met with the media in advance of racing double duty in the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series at Darlington Raceway.

Media Availability Quotes:

It seems pretty rare anymore that you get an opportunity to jump back into a Xfinity car, but you have had a lot of success in them over the years. Do you enjoy a weekend like this, where you have the chance to run both races? I guess for the lack of a better way to put it, just go play and seek a trophy in the Xfinity race?

“Yeah, I mean I think we kind of strategically plan these races out to places that I wanted to come to, and just thankful that HendrickCars.com and Hendrick Motorsports was able to put that together and have me be able to choose which races I want to go do, so that’s great. I would love to race more, it’s just a matter of finding the right funding and the right teams to do it with.

Yeah, I’m excited. I think the laps will help me. The cars are very different, but I think with the racetrack and learning some nuances there will help for Sunday and just give me something fun to go do and try to go compete for a win. Try not to put too much pressure on ourselves with no practice, and just try to figure out what we have in the beginning of the race. But once we kind of get a feel for that, I think we’ll be able to march our way forward and see how we do.”

This weekend, there’s a new right-side tire for Darlington (Raceway), but it’s a familiar tire, the intermediate tire. What are your thoughts on that? How could it possibly change the racing?

“Yeah, I mean just my immediate thoughts are – for us as a team, just working through the balance and what that tire needs. I feel like we’ve had good speed this year, but just trying to work on what that tire needs because it is different than what we ran here and different than what we ran at some of the mile-and-a-half’s last year.

I think with the racing, you’ll see pretty similar stuff. I think this tire has been really good though. I would say this tire has a bit more feel to it.. like you can slide the car. You can manipulate the car a little bit more. I like that, but it’s not a huge difference. I think the falloff is similar and all those things.”

For next weekend, do you have a read on the option tire and the things it could provide with the racing? What would make it look successful?

“Yeah, I’ll have to look back through my notes from the test. I think that we definitely ran that tire. It had a lot of speed on the short run fire off. And then we were just kind of getting to the point where it was starting to wear and fall off in 25 laps. We did 50 laps run with the control tire. I think it’s going to be really quick on the short run, so hopefully that creates some comers and goers, where if you have a couple tenths on the guy in front of you, you can pass them.

So, I’m all for it. I think it’s a good idea. They did it a few years ago, but hopefully this is a more drastic difference between the two tires. We did that test and ran through a lot of different sets, and we tried to go as soft as what they felt comfortable with. Hopefully that’s a good things. The racetrack – the groove in (turns) one and two is fairly wide. The groove in (turns) three and four is pretty narrow. So hopefully we can kind of widen that out through lap cars and having to run inadvertently in the second lane when you’re trying to pass.”

You’ve been on the good and bad end of late-race moments the last two spring races at Darlington Raceway. How do you assess those situations, whether it’s an overtime restart, just a late restart or you’re in a tight battle for the lead?

“I don’t really think about it too much. I mean I don’t lose sleep over how the races end here. Really, if there’s any racetrack you’re not thinking about that, it’s here. You’re thinking about – how do I be good for 50 laps. That’s just what it takes all day long to be fast year. And then you might get that caution in the end and have to re-rack them and have a good restart. So, for sure, I pay attention to launches on restarts. I pay attention to lane selection, but I’m not losing sleep on what’s going to happen on a green-white-checkered here or late in the race. It’s just how I manage my tires and my equipment to make the best 40 -lap, 50-lap run I can do.”

This will mark the halfway point of the regular-season. You were the first guy to get to three wins. How would you assess your season, so far?

“Yeah, I mean Jeff Andrews and I were on the way up here and he was talking about the first 12, middle 12 and last 12. I’m always kind of looking for new ways to think of it, and I think that’s a great way to view it. I feel like – yeah, our first 12 (races) have been up-and-down, right? But our ups are very up, and we’ve had a lot of pace each weekend. Last weekend, we were fastest in practice; good averages. And then the issue in qualifying. We just kind of missed the balance in the race; going into a night race that we didn’t expect to happen and we couldn’t adjust enough.

We just have to be a little more consistent, but we have the pace. I feel like that’s what you’re really striving for – to have pace to win races. We have that, it’s just that we’re not consistently putting the weekends together, in terms of balance and execution. Our execution also – whether that’s me hitting the wall in qualifying and putting us in a bad pit stall. We get boxed in a few times and we’ll lose multiple stops. Or the week before, we had some issues on pit road; had a jack issue and lost several stops. So, it’s just kind of all around execution, but luckily it’s early in the season. I feel like I’m fresh. I feel super fresh this year and ready to attack the summer stretch and just start putting some of that consistency together.”

Looking ahead to North Wilkesboro, do you think it’s important for the sport to always have an All-Star Race? How much do you think that really always brings to the sport?

“Yeah, I mean I think it’s super important. I think it’s a sense of pride as a race team to be in the All-Star Race. I think our All-Star Race is more important than other sports. We actually put the same effort, same everything, into it. We race the same.. maybe even more aggressive than other sports.

I think for us, we actually take it seriously and there’s a lot on the line. It’s a chance to learn. You can’t just take a week off. If you just approach the All-Star Race like it’s a week off, you’re going to have some bummed out feelings after that race. We want to win it. Obviously there’s some money on the line, as well, so that would be nice.”

You’ve won at a lot of places, but does it feel any different coming back to Darlington Raceway as a winner at this place?

“No, not at all. It’s still a tough place. If anything, last fall would have felt that way. We had a bit of a tough weekend leading up to the race. So no, I mean it just feels good coming here. I feel like I have a pretty good history here. I enjoy getting around this place. I’m going to try to not read that much into it because the cars are different; the tire is different this week. I’m just thinking about those factors.”

Regarding the All-Star Race, growing up as a fan of the sport as you were, are there any All-Star Races that you’ve watched that stick out in your memory?

“Yeah, I mean I think the All-Star Race had a really good stretch there at Charlotte (Motor Speedway). You know, 2007 with Kyle and Kurt getting into it; and 2010 I believe, or 2009, when they were three-wide for the lead. There were quite a few good years there, and then it kind of dulled out with the Gen-6; just had a rough patch there where they were trying a lot of stuff and it was really single-file at the end, and it was basically about who the good launch on the restart with 10-to-go.

But yeah, it kind of ebbs-and-flows when the All-Star Races have been good. I would say those kind of 2007 to 2010 were some really good races. I also remember the one with Jimmie and Kevin. I think Kevin won.. yeah, I think that was 2007. So yeah, there were some good ones.”

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