CHEVROLET NCS AT TEXAS: William Byron Advances to Round of Eight with Milestone Victory

    The victory marked a milestone victory for Hendrick Motorsports with Byron delivering the organization its 300th all-time NASCAR Cup Series victory – all recorded with Chevrolet.

·       Byron’s triumph extended Chevrolet’s series-leading win count to 15 trips to victory lane in NASCAR’s premier series this season.

·       Chevrolet continues to lead the series with 17 NASCAR Cup Series victories at Texas Motor Speedway; and 848 all-time in NASCAR’s premier series.

·       Chevrolet drivers have recorded back-to-back victories playoff opener races this season, with Byron’s victory securing his spot into the Round of Eight. 

FORT WORTH, TX (Sept. 24, 2023) – Team Chevy’s William Byron claimed the first ticket into the NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) Round of Eight after picking up the win in Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. Already a career-season for the 25-year-old North Carolina native, Byron also secured an unprecedented milestone victory for Hendrick Motorsports, taking the organization to its 300th all-time victory in NASCAR’s premier series. The winningest organization in series’ history, each of Hendrick Motorsports’ NCS victories have come with Chevrolet.

 

“On behalf of everyone at Chevrolet, congratulations to Rick Hendrick and the entire Hendrick Motorsports organization on reaching 300 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series,” said Jim Campbell, General Motors U.S. Vice President of Performance and Motorsports. “This milestone victory is a testament to the dedication and teamwork by everyone who has contributed to Hendrick Motorsports. As a longtime partner of the winningest organization in NASCAR Cup Series history, we are proud that all 300 Hendrick Motorsports wins have been in partnership with Chevrolet. We look forward to continuing to race together for wins in the NASCAR Cup series.”

 

The victory came after chaos ensued in the closing laps of the Round of 12 opening race. With a series of late-race cautions, Byron lined-up the No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1 in the third position for the race’s final restart. Making a power move to the front, the Team Chevy driver quickly pulled away from the lead pack – leading the final six circuits en route to his series-best, and personal-best, sixth victory of the season.

 

Byron led Chevrolet to a one-two finish at the 1.5-mile Texas oval with fellow playoff contender Ross Chastain taking the checkered flag in the runner-up position. The 30-year-old Florida native will head into the second race of the round above the cutline with a 12-point advantage. Despite a disappointing finish after an incident in the final laps, Kyle Larson claimed crucial points with a win in Stage Two – placing the Team Chevy driver eighth in the points standings and two-points above the cutline.

 

Race Two of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 will get underway at Talladega Superspeedway with the YellaWood 500 on Sunday, October 1, at 2 p.m. ET. Live coverage can be found on the NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

 

RICK HENDRICK, OWNER OF HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS; WILLIAM BYRON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1; and RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF OF THE NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1 – Press Conference Transcript

 

 

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by our winning crew chief, Rudy Fugle. It’s your sixth win of the season. Tell us about your day.

 

RUDY FUGLE: Wow, what a year and what a race. We had a really good Stage 1 and lost some track position, just making sure we pitted and didn’t do anything dumb with our tires trying to run long and didn’t get ourselves in a pinch.

 

Had to work our way forward and had to pass a lot of cars and finally found ourselves in the right spot at the end, and once William sees a sniff of the lead, there’s a good chance he’s going to do well. Just really proud of him and the whole team.

 

Q. Keeping William out there, having him stay out after that J.J. Yeley wreck, what did that mean to put that faith in William’s hands and bring home that 300th win?

RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, at that point in the race, I think that’s your best play with where we were. I think we were seventh or eighth, so if we pit with the majority of them, we’re going to be 18th or 20th, and it’s an okay call to pit. If you’re going to be 10th or 11th — I think the 11 car was the first one on two rights, and he got close to the front.

 

But it worked out, and it was a fairly easy call. We were just hoping with that long a laps on tires that everything was going to go okay and the air was going to stay in them and everything, so that was good.

 

Q. Earlier in the race we saw a lot of tire issues from a variety of teams. Where does the concern start to come in when you start to see that from various teams? Obviously if it’s one team or one manufacturer that’s one thing, but when it’s a wide variety, when do you consider some more conservative strategies or starting to talk about that with different team members?

RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, for these type of racetracks it’s everything. It’s the whole week. The whole week is based around what air pressures and what cambers we can run and how long we can run on tires.

 

With all of our key partners and all of our teammates, it’s a nonstop discussion from Tuesday all the way until now.

 

It’s been that way for at least a year now. This race last year was tough, so we were prepared for that, and we were able to share information and kind of — when the 8 had his issue, he was really confident that it was a contact and not air pressure or anything like that, that they did damage to the tire. You’ve just got to get that information and try to make good decisions.

 

Q. What statement do you want to say to your critics who were saying, what happened to the pace of the No. 24 team after the regular season? And secondly, what is it with your chemistry with William that makes you guys work so well together?

RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, I mean, first of all, thank you. I just believe in this team no matter what. I don’t do social media. I don’t really read or watch any of that stuff. I don’t watch anything NASCAR really during the week, especially during the Playoffs. I’m busy enough as it is. I didn’t know anybody was saying that about us.

 

I thought we had a decent round. Nobody had to talk about us good or bad and nobody talked about us on the cut line. That was our goal for the first round.

 

I’ve been through a ton of different types of playoff situations and rounds, one point and five points, in the trucks and won tons of championships every which way. I have a way I want the team to do things, and we’re doing that, so that’s the main thing.

 

Then William and I just always had a great relationship, and we can trust each other. We have each other’s back, and that just breeds into the whole team. That’s the key.

 

Q. William said that there was one point today where he pitted when you wanted him to stay out, so I’m curious before the last — when you made the decision to stay out there at the end, did you do anything different to make sure that he knew what you wanted him to do?

RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, I mean, so early in the race, we talk through things. That’s one of the main things we always try to do. I tell him what I want to do. But he’s driving the race car. He always has a chance to change his mind.

 

He didn’t not understand me or anything like that. He was worried that he was going to get too loose staying out on tires to start Stage 2 and not be able to survive. He spun out in Kansas, so I’m sure that’s in the back of his mind, so he’s just not wanting to do any of those things. He thought the safer play was get four, and he apologized later in Victory Lane for doing that because I think we would have been in a little bit better spot.

 

But it is what it is. We’re a team. We work together, and it made us better. It made us realize what we were good at, how we can get the car better. We were able to get four or five spots kind of every single run, which I don’t know many people did.

 

Q. A milestone day for Hendrick Motorsports for you guys, but coming into the season, did you think this would be a dominant year? You guys are really on fire and continuing to hit at the right time.

RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, I think we’ve grown. This is year three, so we’ve grown every single year. Year one we won that race early. We had confidence going, a lot of consistency. We didn’t have race winning pace like the 9 and the 5 did, our teammates, but we were good, and that grew into last year where we were leading more laps and won more races and we kind of had some ups and downs. A big slump in the summer, but then I thought we were awesome in the Playoffs last year, really out-pointed a ton of people, and had Martinsville not go our way and some of the things that happened there to keep us out of the Final Four. Then we went to Phoenix and we ran really well, as well.

 

I knew that was going to — that playoff run was going to give us confidence over the off-season to get where we are now.

 

Yeah, I think we can — we would like to be winning and running in the top 3 all day every week like we did at the beginning of the year. We’re working towards that. It’s tough, and we’re continuing to find speed in our cars. The engine shop showed up today. They were really, really working hard and finding more power, just everybody.

 

Q. With Talladega being next week I guess you breathe a big sigh of relief?

RUDY FUGLE: We kind of have two goals we’ve set ourselves. In three races we think that if we earn this many points, and we know what that is every round, that we’re going to advance and/or you get a win. Those two things are on our mind. We wanted to score big points to get us at least halfway to the point goal or win the race. So winning the race is huge.

 

Now we get to go help the 5; we get to help the 9; we get to help our Chevy partners next week. We don’t have to be as stressed about what happens. We can just go try to get more playoff points, and that’s a big goal.

 

Q. With the win being locked into the round of 8, looking towards Las Vegas, winning earlier there in March and winning Martinsville last year, does that give you a lot of confidence that you’ll make the Championship 4?

RUDY FUGLE: It changes — this series changes so fast. It’s so cyclical. We’re going to have to bring our “A” game to every one of those races. Somebody will find more power; somebody is going to find more downforce; and somebody is going to find more setup grip in between now and then. We’ll go to work on that and bring all we can to those races.

 

They’re races that we’re excited about for sure. Homestead is probably my favorite track. I’ve won the most here, one of my favorite tracks. Then I like Las Vegas; William does, as well. And Martinsville, there’s nothing like it. We’ll try to acquire those points and/or if we’re in the spot, we’ll win that race.

 

Q. As you talk about the success you guys had last year during the Playoffs and the things that you built upon, and as you referenced a couple things go right, you’re in Phoenix potentially. In one sense, that’s a very short period. It’s been less than a year since that. But I’m curious, what is it like to build from that moment to this, and you’re still a few races away, but to have run 30 races, is it a quick time, long time, and what is that period like and how tough is it to be in those moments and to be able to have an opportunity to potentially put yourself in that situation again?

RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, it’s a grind. This whole deal is a grind. The season is a grind. It’s tough to stay up, and it’s tough even when you’re winning. It’s tough to stay up and keep going.

It seems like forever ago that last year happened, but just remembering the process, and the whole team believing in the process and how things work and how we want to approach each race and each round and whatnot.

 

I think that just becomes a habit, and the more habits, you can be habitual winners, habitual run in the top 5, then it’s just easier and it’s more common. You don’t get as high, you don’t get as low. You know that you’re going to be a strong team with a chance to win.

That’s kind of what we’ve been trying to prove.

 

Q. The 36 playoff points going into the Playoffs, into this round, how does that impact or affect any decision making? I know it’s still all about the process, so I know that’s not going to change, but how does that play into anything that you do or think about?

RUDY FUGLE: It’s huge. It’s 41 now. The next round when we get to the Round of 8, we’re going to know on average what it took to advance to the Final Four. Each year you know on average what it takes to advance, and if you start with 41 and say it takes 120, then you only need 80 in three races instead of needing 120.

 

That’s the thing. Anytime you can put some in the kitty, that’s great.

 

Q. Obviously you guys came into the Playoffs tied with the 19 team. I know you can’t control anything that they do, but they haven’t finished better than 17th. In one sense that could have been you guys in a way. When you look at how that team, because they were tied, how volatile the Playoffs can be, how scary is that in a sense?

RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, I mean, since the Next-Gen car the Playoffs are super volatile. It’s just hard to go get a victory. You have way more cars that are competitive, that are super hard to pass, especially by the end of the race.

 

You used to not have to have that. You’d have 12 cars that were competitive in the Playoffs, and now if you’re 21st, it’s really hard to pass any of them cars. They’re all super good, especially by the end of the race, great drivers, and so it’s easy to get set back at the wrong point and get a bad race. That’s where the points cushion is huge and just sticking with it, and being able to come back like we did today was great.

 

THE MODERATOR: We’re now joined by our winning driver, William Byron. 10th win of your career, 300th win for Hendrick Motorsports. Tell us about your day.

 

WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, it was a really good day. I think it was kind of one of those days that I knew it would be a grind from start to finish. Just honestly, we had kind of advanced forward quicker than maybe I expected and got the Stage 1 points and felt good about that, and then just the sequence in Stage 2, I just made a mistake and pitted there, and Rudy made the right call, and we restarted 25th or wherever we were. It was just really hard to go forward after that.

We kind of slowly inched our way forward after Stage 2 and got ourselves to like 15th and I felt good about our race car, like we had good confidence, like I could do what I needed to do and pass people on the long run, so I felt good about that.

 

Then once we got in the top 10 it was kind of picking one off each six, seven to ten laps, and once we got a sniff of probably the first two rows, our car was right up there and just needed a couple good restarts. I didn’t hit the sequence of restarts very well.

 

The first one was pretty good with Kyle. Had pretty good push there and just couldn’t — they couldn’t get clear, and then the next one after that I was terrible on, and then the final one I just felt like I got a good launch and knew what I wanted to do in 1 and 2 and got a good run off of 2 and put it three wide, and that was kind of it.

 

Felt good about that to end on a good one, but yeah, just really happy about the win and everything it means for the company.

 

Q. Two questions for you: How much of a relief is it to win this early in the Round of 12 and not have to worry about Talladega and the Charlotte Roval? And secondly, in your case, what has been the most inspirational and empowering quote from Mr. H that’s really engaged you as a driver?

WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, first off, just making the Round of 8 is an accomplishment in itself. I think for us and where we are with our team, the Round of 16 is definitely would be a big disappointment not to make it through, but the Round of 12 is tough. You don’t really control your destiny at Talladega, and then the other two could go either way. You can have a good car, you can have a bad day and crash or whatever.

 

That makes it nerve-racking in this round, so it’s always an accomplishment to get to the Round of 8. So excited about that.

 

Then yeah, win 300 and everything that Mr. H has meant to me in my career so far. I don’t know if it’s one quote, but just how he values people and just how people make things go, and I think that I’ve always valued that because he’s taught us and instilled that in us.

 

I think getting a good crew chief like Rudy and just getting people around me that believe in each other just makes all the difference.

 

Q. Did you feel like at any point as Kyle was out front that you had a chance to win this race or had you conceded that this wasn’t your day? When did it dawn on you maybe I’ve got a chance?

WILLIAM BYRON: To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about the win. I just couldn’t put myself in that mindset where we were running. We were running fifth, fifth to sixth, and I felt like that was going to be a good points day.

 

I think honestly for me, that’s what I had to focus on. Like I can’t give up free points. I was just trying to focus on my job.

 

I think my crew chief had more optimism that we had speed to win, but I was just thinking about trying to get to the end of the race and get a 40- to 50-point day.

 

Once Kyle crashed there, obviously the door was open, and I think the first time it was open I didn’t do a good job with the restart, so I was kicking myself for that, and then was able to nail the last one.

 

Yeah, I think after it all transpired there with 11 to go or whatever, that’s when I thought I had a shot.

 

Q. I understand in the preseason Mr. Hendrick put the 300 on the table, that it was important to him and he wanted you guys to go out and get it. How does it feel now that as a team you guys all pitched in, you got the 300th but that you actually got there for him?

WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I mean, it’s really special. Growing up a Hendrick Motorsports fan, I watched win No. 200 on TV when Jimmie won that race. I always felt like obviously the gold standard was Hendrick Motorsports, so if I could ever drive for them, once I started having success in my own career, that was the goal.

 

When I met Mr. Hendrick when I was 14 at JR Motorsports I told him that, that that was a goal to drive for him. I didn’t have a lot of confidence that that would work out, but I was going to put it out there, and when we met again when I was 18 and running the Truck Series and sat down, I just had the confidence that he was going to take care of me and he was going to put me in the right places to succeed.

 

He committed to me, and even through my rookie season and 2019 and all those years that I was kind of struggling, he just committed and kept encouraging me.

 

I’m super thankful to him, and to give him 300 is really cool.

 

Q. Looking at the last four races, you have a career win at all of the last four races coming up. What is the confidence level now that you have locked the first place in the standings coming into the Round of 8 and then going into Phoenix?

WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I mean, I’m a bit reserved. I think we’ve got to keep working and keep steadily kind of climbing our way forward. I think there’s a lot of good teams out there, so it’s really hard to get ahead of yourself with this Next-Gen car because it’s really all about nailing the setup and nailing the weekend as a whole, giving the right feedback, all those things.

 

Still have some work to do there on my end, but I think we’re very capable of winning at all the tracks. It’s just a matter of trying to put it all together.

 

I’m excited. I think we have opportunities there, and hopefully we capitalize.

 

Q. What does it mean that your team gave you that confidence going into staying out on those last 30 laps to get the win?

WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I wasn’t worried about it at all because I felt like our car was just starting to handle really well. We were kind of catching the top four guys there, minus Kyle, and I felt like Kyle was probably lights out the best.

 

I felt like we were right there behind him.

 

Just trying to manage that, and I felt like when we stayed out, I wasn’t worried about the tires or anything. I just felt like I needed to nail the restarts, and I didn’t, and then I finally got a good one at the end.

 

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by NASCAR Hall of Famer Mr. Rick Hendrick. Mr. Hendrick got win No. 300. Tell us how it feels.

 

RICK HENDRICK: It feels good to get to 300. We’ve been thinking about it since 299.

I’m proud of all the drivers that have driven at the company since we started because every one of them have participated in this 300 wins, so it’s really good to see William get it.

 

He’s had a heck of a year. The whole organization is proud because we put these marks — we have glass on the wall that every time we have a win, we put another flag up there. It’s good to get to 300.

 

Q. William, back at Phoenix in March, you said that your career is a constant evolution. Now as a six-time winner in 2023 and looking like a clear favorite to win the title, where does that evolution stand now?

WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I mean, I think we’re still working on it, so I think there’s still ways to get better.

 

I felt like this year it’s easy to kind of look at the wins and be like, okay, we’re there, we’re doing everything we need to do, and we are, but we’ve got to keep working and keep improving.

It’s kind of an evolution. I feel like we went through a little bit of a lull with the bigger racetracks, the high-speed tracks, just what balance I needed in the car. I think I was looking for a car that was a little too free. Just trying to figure out what that balance is and go fast with it. I felt like today we kind of did that.

 

I feel really good about the future, but we’ve got to go to the simulator on Tuesday or whatever and try and work on Vegas because we don’t have to focus on the next two.

 

Q. If I’d have told you when you met with William when he was 14 years old that he’d get you your 300th win and have six wins and locked into the next round of the Playoffs as a favorite, what would you have said?

RICK HENDRICK: I think I would have said you’re crazy because he did walk up to me at JRM very determined — not cocky, but I’m going to drive for you one day. Then my neighbor told me, you said that Byron kid driving that truck. I said, that’s William. So I called him, and the rest is history.

 

But he’s such a great young man, but to be honest with you, with no more experience than he had and to step into Xfinity cars and do what he did there, what he did in the trucks, and how quick he’s learned, he’s a student, and he spends a lot of time in the simulator, and he’s got a work ethic — I don’t know if everybody knows this, but he went to the toughest private school in Charlotte, Country Day, at the same time he got his Eagle Scout badge, and he was taking courses at Liberty, and he won the Grand National series. Any one of those would have been pretty sporty. I don’t think I could have done any one of the four.

 

But that says a lot about his tenacity and his work ethic. So I’m real proud of him, and he’s — I’m just thinking about how he’s progressing and what the future looks like with he and Rudy together.

 

WILLIAM BYRON: I don’t know what to say to answer that. I think to your question, when I watched as a kid, like they were the standard, and I was a big Jimmie Johnson fan. So I think that as I progressed in my career, obviously wanted to be with Hendrick Motorsports.

When he got with me when I was 18 years old, I think it was in July of that year, running the Truck Series, and I had a lot of questions of what I was going to do next, and he just gave me the confidence that he was going to take care of me, and I just — he trusted me, and I don’t know, I just appreciate that so much because I went through some struggles my first couple years and he would always encourage me and always pick me up.

 

It’s paying off now. We’ve got a great team, and starting to put it together.

 

Q. I want to talk to you about this track and the changes or your thoughts on this race this weekend and how this track seems like it changed. 22 lead changes among 13 drivers; it seemed to me like we were seeing some really good passing and really good racing going on despite the heat that I think was playing a bigger part than it would with cars being very slick, as well. Your thoughts on the track, and did it race differently this weekend than it has over the last few years?

WILLIAM BYRON: I don’t know. It just seems like with this racetrack, it takes a long time for it to get good. It seems like we start the weekend and the track is real treacherous, there’s a lot of wrecks, and as we get further and further along in the weekend, it just gets better and better.

I don’t know how to get there quicker, but it is pretty racy by the end, and there’s a lot of action on the restarts.

 

Yeah, I loved it, obviously, but yeah, I think it took a while for the track to come in for sure.

 

Q. Rick, I remember you guys going to Martinsville in 1984 and Jeff winning that race and how it was kind of all on the line right then. We get this done or maybe the door is shut. Now we fast forward and we’re talking about your 300th win. Can you talk about how the first one saved the day and catapulted you to this?

RICK HENDRICK: Yeah, we didn’t have a sponsor, and the deal was Ritchie Petty was going to drive, and Kenny Rogers and everybody left me with no driver and no sponsor, so Harry — we talked to Jeff Bodine, and I think we wrecked at Darlington, and I said, Harry, we’ve got to quit. We don’t have any money. We’ll start back when we get some help.

 

You know once you shut down you’re not going to come back. He said, let’s go to Martinsville because Bodine is good there, and we went to Martinsville, and I wasn’t at the race that day.

Yeah, I think about that a lot. The twists and turns in life that if you’d not been in the right place or hadn’t been in Atlanta to see Gordon, if I hadn’t been at JRM and William and then my next door neighbor who’s a friend of his dad’s calling me and said, hey, have you been watching this kid.

So life is — we’ve been blessed. I think about it a lot, the drivers that I’ve had, and I really think the most rewarding thing to me is to see guys like Chase when I think I met him at 14 become a champion and William and Jeff and Jimmie Johnson and the crew chiefs.

 

Yeah, I’m very, very — I think about it all the time, had we not won that race, it wouldn’t be a Hendrick Motorsports, and it wouldn’t be 300 wins.

 

I’m very, very thankful for that.

 

Q. When did you know as a team owner that you guys had finally solidified enough, like okay, now I’m finally good to go? I was on the edge, we got the win. Did you immediately know, okay, we’re good to go on the big roll or was it later on you felt your team had the legs to be there for good?

RICK HENDRICK: No, I’ll tell you, Randy Dorton — I wish Randy was here to see all this because his engine shop was going bust right beside us, and Harry’s, and we won three races that year. It was amazing. I went to Daytona, and the year before I went to Daytona, I think we finished 10th. I was standing on top of a motor home and couldn’t go in the garage area with Raymond Beadle. Then the next year I’m there.

 

But when we won three races and we won that last race, I think, and we got — after we got a partial sponsor and then we got Levi Garrett and they came on board, and then we got a call wanting me to run another car, and I knew Tim Richmond.

 

Once we started clicking like that and did some innovative things with two-car team sharing — yeah, I think about how close we were, but then I think about if you could come in the sport today with five employees, and Harry Hyde was making $500 a week and two of the other guys were volunteers, and that’s what we went to Daytona with.

 

From a very humble start, you think about what it takes today to come into this sport and be able to compete or win a race in your first year, let alone three races.

I’m glad I don’t have to start now.

 

Q. Rick, obviously in four decades of fielding cars, it was win 1, win 100, 200, 269, now 300. At what point did win 300 become a goal?

RICK HENDRICK: The 300 wasn’t a goal. 269 was a goal to tie and beat Petty’s record. That was a goal, and I never thought we’d get there, so we started counting down until we got to break that record.

 

Once we got to 269, then everybody started talking about 300.

 

We had a heck of a year in 2021, won a lot of races, and I guess we’ve won 10 this year with the Million Dollar Race. But it’s hard.

 

I’m not thinking about 350, I’ll tell you that. I’m going to enjoy 300 and see what happens. I’d like to win another championship.

 

Q. Mr. H, what are the intangibles for you to determine the people you’ve brought on to be a part of your organization, and secondly, how much does it mean to accomplish this milestone carrying on the dream that you and your father built back in 1984?

RICK HENDRICK: Well, you know, I’m in the automobile business and I started that exactly like the racing. I had five or six employees of a little deal that was busted, and today we’ve got 11,000 employees and 100 dealerships. I don’t know how that happened, either, other than it’s people.

The secret to any business you’re in is people. If you surround yourself with good people and take care of them, my top six guys in the automobile side have been with me a minimum of 25 years, and when I look at guys like Jeff Andrews and like I said, Randy Dorton — Randy Dorton had so much to do with building this organization because he was more than an engine builder. We attract good people, and we try to hire people and — we like to promote from within. Chad started on the 24 car as a tire changer. Alan has been with me that’s the crew chief on the 9, he was an engineer with Gary DeHart. So our guys have kind of grown up in the company, and we’ve kind of got a character and a way they work together.

 

It’s not easy to have four cars race each other, and tonight when I went out on the pavement to take a picture with all the teams, I felt for the other three guys because they wanted to win, but only one guy, and then I reminded them, all of you guys have contributed to 300. I mean, you’ve all — we wouldn’t have it without you.

 

So I think any business that you’re in, it’s about people. We take care of our people, and we treat everybody like a family. I grew up on a farm, and that’s one thing my dad taught me is you have to depend on your neighbors.

 

I’ve had that philosophy all of my adult working life.

 

Q. Mr. H, you mentioned Martinsville and your beginnings, and we talked about that before, but when we hear reports of charters at $40 million and things of that nature, what are your thoughts on that, and is that a sustainable business model when a charter typically brings probably $5 to $10 million in prize money a year?

RICK HENDRICK: You know, it depends. It’s like going to a car auction. All you need is two people bidding on a car, and then it brings all the money.

 

Until someone sold and closed for that kind of money, it could go the other way just as quick. But thank NASCAR for coming up with a charter that gives us something of value that if we didn’t have it, our parts would be 10 cents on the dollar. So if you worked in the sport and you’ve got a charter and you want to retire or it’s time for you to get out, you should be able to get something — I think Bud Moore and Junior Johnson, those guys wished they had a charter because they put all their life into the sport. When it’s over, it’s like, what have you got to sell.

 

I think the charter is a great thing, and I think it’s going to be driven by the amount of people that want to get in the sport.

 

Q. How confident are you that the charter system is going to remain in place as you guys work through a future financial plan with NASCAR beyond next season?

RICK HENDRICK: Well, I think the charters are going to be there. All indications are they will be there. We’re getting close, I think. I haven’t been in the negotiations, but I think they’re ramping up things. You might know more about that than I do.

 

But I spent a lot of time with Jim France when I was at the 24-hour race, and he wants to see the sport grow and go. He wants to build a fan base, wants to go to new tracks and do new things.

I think NASCAR — I think we’ll get everything sorted out, and I think there will be charters. I don’t have any inkling that there’s not going to be charters.

 

Q. William, you talked earlier about — Rudy even talked about the inconsistency of results in the Next-Gen era because of the competition, yet here in the last six races you’ve won a couple times, five top 10s. You’ve put together a nice little stretch here. If you look at your season results, there was a good run of six, seven straight top 10s and there have been some runs where there haven’t been in terms of that. To have such a good run or solid run at this point with still six more races to go to the end of the season, at least four that significantly matter in terms of the championship, the next round in Phoenix, what’s the challenge or how difficult is it to maintain that because it doesn’t seem like people — like Rick is used to seeing Jeff scoring 20 straight top 10s or something like that. That just doesn’t happen.

WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think the results are really individual when they happen. You just have to be like super disciplined to get results. I feel like you can — because it is all — it’s all so close. I looked at the lap times from practice, and it was — the first-place guy was at 05 and the 30th place

guy was at 40. It’s so hard.

 

I think you just have to be really disciplined to grind through the times that aren’t so good and get the balance of the car right and just make your way forward.

 

I honestly look at the last six races, I don’t think besides today and Watkins Glen were we like really, really contending, but we ended up with top 5s and top 10s. It’s just tough.

I think you can easily — if you let your guard down going into a weekend, you can easily end up with a 15th to 20th place finish. It’s really trying to just approach each weekend as its own thing, and that’ll apply for us when we go to Vegas. When we get through Vegas, we’ll go to Homestead and approach it like it’s a completely different race.

 

Q. Since you talk about the grinding, and again, I understand you work really hard and you did last year to go as far as you did, is there more grinding when you look back at last year you could have done, or is that experience — for as difficult as it is, is there something you got out of that that’s helping you put together maybe an eighth-place finish or 12th-place finish or 15th-place finish or maybe getting a couple extra stage points?

WILLIAM BYRON: Yeah, I think I just look back at my whole career and look at the moments that I just got too excited and jumped the gun and made a mistake.

 

I think last year even looking back at last year’s race here, just getting emotional, getting just caught up in the moment too much in terms of emotion and not really staying in the moment and making the right decisions.

 

I think this year has been different in that way. I find myself when I have chances to win, it’s almost calming. I feel like for me I kind of just stay patient, and I’ve worked really hard to manage those emotions that come up throughout the race.

 

Yeah, I think it is — for me it’s a grind mentally, I guess, more than physically, but it’s just the grind of kind of staying in it.

 

THE MODERATOR: Thank you to you both for coming in. Appreciate your time. Good luck next weekend.

GM PR