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December 28, 2023

William Byron aims to build on banner season: ‘We just want to be the fastest’


William Byron prepares his earpieces while on pit road at Dover Motor Speedway.
James Gilbert
Getty Images

Hendrick Motorsports is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary when the NASCAR Cup Series starts back up next year. The organization added 10 victories to its total last season, and the last of William Byron’s six wins in 2023 pushed team owner Rick Hendrick to the 300-win milestone.

With another landmark occasion looming in recognition of the team’s longevity, Byron says he has all the incentive he needs – commemoration or not — to keep his foot in the gas after last season’s breakout.

“I mean, I’m not going to go into next year just because it’s the 40th year and say, ‘man, I really want to win,’ but I hope I win more races than I did this year. I hope I win 10,” Byron said during NASCAR Champion’s Week in Nashville. “So that’s the goal, and I told everybody that we just want to be the fastest next year. We were really good this year, we were always in the mix and always one of the guys, but just want to be faster next year.”

RELATED: Season reviews, 2023 Cup Series | Byron through the years

Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet was among the fastest on the circuit last season, and his six-win total and average finish of 11.0 were tops among Cup Series regulars. The 26-year-old driver also established personal bests in top fives (15), top 10s (21) and laps led (1,016).

His winning ways and a gutsy performance at Martinsville in the Round of 8 finale spurred him into the Championship 4 field for the first time at Phoenix, where he finished fourth behind eventual champion Ryan Blaney and teammate/series runner-up Kyle Larson.

“When you look at the results, I felt like we finally put together what we’re capable of, and just the consistency and the being there every week,” Byron said, noting that certain tracks remained as potential spots for improvement. “… I feel like the next step for us is just pushing all those little boundaries — me as a driver, us as a team — and just being a little bit more aggressive and being a bit more on the edge. That’s honestly what I’m focused on.”

Staying on top and making a push for a double-digit win total carries potentially burdensome expectations, which Byron said comes from within.

“There’s definitely going to be pressure — I mean, internal pressure of trying to be the best,” Byron said. “I mean, you don’t want to go out there and suck, and so I think you’re gonna go out there and try to do the best you can. I think if you put the right amount of preparation into it, I don’t think you’ll feel the pressure that you can’t overcome. I think if you if you put the right amount of prep into it and you feel good about your team, I think we can go out there and use that pressure. There’s always going to be pressure. I mean, we’re not going to go out there and just be on cruise. So it’ll be tough but yeah, we want to try to one-up what we did this year.”

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