Byron’s playoff point advantage accumulated throughout the year helped him survive a subpar race last weekend at Martinsville that put him back on equal footing with his three fellow championship contenders this weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
While there is certainly pressure to win his first series title, the 25-year-old approaches Sunday’s race believing the hardest part may be over.
Photo by: Gavin Baker / NKP / Motorsport Images
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, PODS Chevrolet Camaro
“We were (nervous), no doubt. We put together such a good year. To make it all the way to Martinsville and feel like your chances are slipping away was definitely kind of demoralizing, depressing,” Byron said Thursday at Championship 4 Media Day.
“If we hadn’t made it, I think it would have been a lot of disappointment. I think that’s where the pressure came from. For us to win a championship would be just icing on the cake. You got a 1 in 4 chance.
“Now, we have a new life for our team. This is what our goal was, to make the Championship 4. I think any team would say that. Now, we feel like, I mean, we have nothing to lose.”
At 25, Byron would be the fourth-youngest Cup Series champion in history and would cap off a breakout season for the native of Charlotte, N.C. In addition to his six wins, he leads the series in top-10 finishes and was the No. 1 seed when the playoffs kicked off in September.
With Larson the oldest of the Championship 4 drivers at 31, it’s quite possible their collective NASCAR journey could see them face off for the series title multiple times in the years ahead.
“It’s kind of funny because when I came into the Cup Series it was the old versus new, and the old guys ruled with (Kevin) Harvick and Jimmie (Johnson). Those guys were dominating races, and Truex,” said Byron.”
“It was kind of a joke that NASCAR promoted us so much. People were laughing at it. We’re here now. It’s cool. It’s all the guys I grew up racing against. I think all these guys are going to win multiple races a year for the next few years.”
Right now, Byron…