William Byron feels ‘terrible’ despite making the Championship 4

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA - OCTOBER 28: William Byron, driver of the #24 PODS Chevrolet, and Erik Jones, driver of the #43 Allegiant Allways Rewards Chevrolet, drive during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 28, 2023 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

One pit road mistake, penalty, or being swept up in a crash could have ended it all. Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, William Byron had a car that was far from one that could win, or even run in the top 10.

Despite that Byron was able to fight his way to a 13th place finish, enough to secure the final spot in the Championship 4 on points. After it was over, Byron said it took every ounce of his energy behind the wheel to pull it off.

“Yeah man, I feel terrible, but it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “All that matters is the result. My crew chief (Rudy Fugle) knew what buttons to push. Our car was so hot from, honestly, around lap 30. I’ve never been that hot. The helmet fan – it really wasn’t pushing enough clean air to me. I would have to shut it off, turn it back on and it would recycle. But overall, our No. 24 PODS Chevy was not great honestly, but we dug deep. I’m just proud of my whole team. They stuck behind me and they gave me adjustments that I needed, and I’m just really proud of them. I wanted to make the Championship Four for them. Just drove the hell out of it for the last 30 laps. We were sliding all around, but that’s what it took.”

Byron said he was well aware of the points battle in the closing laps. Had Denny Hamlin won, Byron, who scored no Stage points Sunday, would have been knocked out. Hamlin finished third.

“My team was keeping me pretty aware,” he said. “I wish I had information every lap because I needed some kind of carrot to keep me motivated. I should have learned from the first race here; I was the same way. Just need to get better at that and make improvements. But overall, really proud of this No. 24 PODS Chevy team. We work really hard, and they deserve this.”

Greg Engle