Byron, Fugle focused on early season points grab

William Byron became the first repeat winner of the NASCAR Cup series season on Sunday at Circuit of the Americas, putting more points in the bank for the postseason.

“I feel like it kind of ebbs and flows,” Byron said. “We’re on a good flow right now in some ways. In the win category. I’d like to finish better on the off days, too. I’m working on that every week. There are a few guys in the series – Chase [Elliott] does a really good job when he doesn’t have the day he wants and he still finishes well.

“I’m still trying to look at those days and how I can improve, like last week (at Bristol). But I feel like the ups are up right now, and we just got to keep it going.”


Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team have two victories and 10 playoff points and it’s been validation for the work done in the offseason to start the year in the right direction.

“Any time you can collect some points, playoff points, early in the year, confidence, all those things, you just got to do it,” Byron’s crew chief Rudy Fugle said. “This is the process. We work really hard during the offseason and prepare for this first chunk of races, and it proves that what we’re doing is correct. So, anytime you can get momentum going and get the team fired up, get everybody fired up. There’s going to be plenty of ups and downs this year, so anytime you can get them, you got to grab them.”

A strong regular season in 2023 had Byron tied for the No. 1 seed going into the postseason with Martin Truex Jr. Both had 36 playoff points, but of the two, Byron made the Championship 4 after winning a career-high six races last season.

Sunday’s victory at Circuit of the Americas made it three consecutive years that Byron has won twice in the first 10 races, and 10 of his 12 career victories have come in his last 78 starts.

“I just feel like it reaffirms that the process that I’m doing during the week is correct,” Byron said. “So, if I do those things that I know are right and the people around me are there to help me do those things and keep the ship kind of going, I know that stuff works. I have a great team. I think when I’m able to plug into what we’re doing as a whole, Rudy and I are able to have conversations during the week, and I get to a place where I feel confident, all that stuff clicks.

“The sport’s really hard. It’s very easy to get caught up in all the moving parts and all the different challenges. But I just know that if I do what is normal for me, it’s good.”

Despite the victories, the ebbs and flows have been easy to see, as Byron is sixth in the championship standings with three top-10 finishes. He finished 17th at Atlanta Motor Speedway after Michael McDowell collided with him coming to pit road. The team also stumbled at Phoenix Raceway and had a dismal day at Bristol Motor Speedway after damaging the right rear toe link.

Circuit of the Americas was a needed confidence booster, especially when looking at the next two races on the calendar. Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway have been weak spots for the team, and Fugle was quick to pivot to those after Sunday’s triumph.

“The next two are circled big time,” Fugle said. “We talked about it, there’s different types of wins. We’re going to shoot for the stars, but we’re going to get a win out of the next two weeks one way or another. It doesn’t have to be a victory or a trophy.

“But we have not been good at Richmond, we have not been good at Martinsville and we need to be. Right away. That’s all we’re focused on right now.”

Story originally appeared on Racer