William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1, met with the media in advance of the NASCAR Cup Series’ practice session at Iowa Speedway. 

Media Availability Quotes:

What do you think about the repave, and what are your questions or concerns? Also, looking at that section off of turn four, the high groove leads into the restart zone and the bottom lane is old pavement..

“Yeah, I mean I don’t really know what to think yet.. not being out on the track and feeling it. Definitely looks like the bottom is obviously preferred. It looks like the guys are chasing the paint on the bottom there. I walked the track earlier and it was really smooth and everything, so I don’t really know what to expect. It looks like there’s a little transition off of turn four that could be interesting. Just like you said, right where the restart zone starts there and kind of the way the normal groove is there, you kind of end up in the old asphalt. So I don’t really know.. I mean I think just trying to figure out what we’re going to have and just try to work from there. But it looks like it’ll be tough to pass, I think, until it widens out hopefully. Our cars, lap cars and everything like that will hopefully move it up a little bit.”

Looking ahead to Chicago – you said after SVG’s win there last year, that it was amazing what he did with shifting, braking and all that sort of stuff. Coming off of Sonoma Raceway, I know Chicago is the only street course, but have you been working on a lot of those things? Do you feel like he still goes in there having an edge, or do you feel like you and others in this series will maybe close the gap a little bit?

“Yeah, I don’t know if he’s running the race or not, but I do think that he’ll certainly still have an advantage. The street course – I think his awareness and feel for the walls and how close he can be is probably the biggest advantage that I see. He’s very comfortable with that. Even watching him in the Sonoma Xfinity race, in (turn) 11, he was really good there. I just think his awareness and ability to run close to the different apex’s is really critical. I think our setups have evolved and we’ve probably taken some things and learned some things, so I’m sure the competition will be that much better and prepared to race against him. But he’ll still be good if he’s in the race, for sure.”

66-points out of the points lead right now with 10 weeks to go in the regular season.. what do you feel like this No. 24 team needs to do, and can do, over that time to get yourselves back further up in that conversation for the regular season championship?

“Yeah, I mean I don’t think we’re really looking at that. We’re looking at just trying to run more consistently and better. We’ve had speed the last five, six races, really, at different times of the weekend. I feel like, still, Charlotte (Motor Speedway) was our best race in the last handful of races. We had really good speed there. So I feel like just trying to put together consistent runs and try to put ourselves in position again to build points as we go. I feel like we’re maybe not scoring the stage points that we need to, so that would be the emphasis – just to consistently perform throughout the race and try to score maximum points. Last year, I think we had a lot of 40-50 point days, so just trying to get days like that.”

Back to the repave – you talked a little bit about the transition off of turn four, but typically on the repave, it’s the whole entire track or a certain part around the whole track. Going into one, with how deep the repave starts, and there’s still the characteristics of the old asphalt – how big of a challenge is that going to be when you guys get out there?

“Yeah, I mean your guess is as good as mine. I’ve watched some in-car camera from Kyle’s (Larson) test and have a decent idea of what the pace is going to be like. But they were on a lot of different tire sets there and it was only three cars, so it was really tough to widen the groove out there. But yeah, I know I’m going to be in fourth gear.. that’s about all I know. So I don’t really know where I’m going to lift or what it’s going to feel like. I just have to kind of see and adjust from there.

Yeah, as it is with any new racetrack, you just have to go out there and feel it, and hopefully make the correct adjustments over 50 minutes to get something close.”

You talked about watching Kyle Larson’s in-car camera.. I assume you guys don’t necessarily like all of the exact same things in a car, so how much can you tell or how much does that help if he prefers a different feel?

“Yeah, I mean with this car, the feel is much, much closer between teams. To me, there’s more of an optimal feel with this car, so you’re always kind of chasing that. So I felt like for their test, they were pretty close, especially by the end.. the last three runs, I would say, was pretty close. But the rest of the test was pretty far off. The track was pretty far off. Hard to learn much from their balance up until the end, and then I felt like they were pretty comparable to whoever else was there – I think (Christopher) Bell and (Brad) Keselowski. I’m sure we’d feel better if we were them; we had the test and have a feel for the racetrack. But at the same time, at North Wilkesboro, we had a great feel for that track, and when we showed up, the track was rubbered in and we weren’t as good as we were at the test. Sometimes not knowing is kind of a good thing.”

As solid as you’ve been at Phoenix Raceway, you’ve seemed to have struggled at New Hampshire and you’re still looking for your top-10 there. What has eluded you specifically about that short, one-mile track?

“Yeah, I don’t really know. I think just trying to figure out what the balance is that we need to go fast there. Yeah, you know, I had a lot of success there leading up to the Cup Series. And then even my first two years in the Cup Series, relative to where I was running at other tracks, I thought I ran pretty well there. It just seems like with our current team, we just haven’t really been very good there. We just have to figure out what that is. Hopefully go through a lot of notes this week and kind of have something comparable to go run there. Last year, we had some damage on the car. I believe the right-front splitter was caved in, based on a pit road issue. Up until then, we had led some laps. And then we had an issue in practice – the steering rack was locked-up. Just not a clean weekend last year, so I think that’s a track that, last year, we probably could have run top-seven at. But this year going back, obviously a big focus to try and get better. Based on how Phoenix and Gateway were to start this year, there’s definitely some work to do. I feel like we’re going to learn some things this week and hopefully have something close.”

There are a lot of unknowns right now, but do you feel like as the weekend goes on and the track is rubbered in, that a second lane could develop?

“I really have no idea. I mean I don’t know anything about this racetrack until we get out there, but I do feel like it’s naturally going to have to develop. Somebody is going to have to go somewhere to either catch a car or lappers are going to have to be off the bottom. I feel like the Cup guys will try to move that groove up, and hopefully the feeder races will kind of help us with that, as well. Those guys, they’re typically very dependent on one lane in some of the lower series, but hopefully some guys kind of widen it out naturally.”

There was a stat going on last week that Kyle Larson had passed Chase Elliott for the most wins for Hendrick Motorsports. Is that a stat that you’re paying attention to at all? You’re not that far behind either of those guys..

“Yeah, I mean not really. I did see that stat, but no, not really. We’re all at different experience levels and came into the Cup Series at different times. Just trying to have continued success. I don’t try to compare too much to one person, but just trying to have continued success and keep trying to win races, and hopefully all of those stats will lineup at the end of your career and you can look back on them.”