O’Reilly Auto Parts 500


By John Sturbin 

DALLAS (March 30, 2017) - NASCAR XFINITY Series rookie contender William Byron is adjusting not only to a new series, but also to a new team. Byron exited his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride with Kyle Busch Motorsports at the end of the 2016 season to join JR Motorsports, an affiliate of Hendrick Motorsports.

Byron will return to Texas Motor Speedway for the My Bariatric Solutions 300 on Saturday, April 8, as driver of the No. 9 Axalta/Liberty University Chevrolet SS. Byron scored seven truck series wins in Busch’s Toyota Tundra last year, including the Rattlesnake 400 night race at TMS in June. XFINITY Series regulars will log their first practice laps on TMS’ repaved and re-profiled 1.5-mile oval on Friday, April 7, at 1:30 p.m. CT.

“I’m really looking forward to just start the new chapter of the race track,” said Byron, the XFINITY Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader with 72 points, 17 ahead of Daniel Hemric. “I have a good history with the victory here in June and hopefully I can carry some of that confidence into this year. We’ve had a couple top fives to build on.”

Byron also has logged four top-10 results and one pole this season.

Byron believes TMS’ new surface, now featuring banking reduced from 24 to 20 degrees in Turns 1 and 2, will be similar to Speedway Motorsports Inc. sister track, Kentucky Speedway.

“We had success at Kentucky - we won that race - so hopefully it’s like that repave,” Byron said. “Judging off how the track (TMS) looks, it looks like it doesn’t have a ton of grip like normal repaves so I think it’s going to produce some good racing. Hopefully the groove is two wide and you’re able to race side by side. Repaves are always pretty good races - everyone’s on edge so it makes it interesting.”

Byron said he definitely is benefitting from working alongside JRM teammate Elliott Sadler, a former TMS Cup winner who currently has a 189-172 point lead over his protégé.

“Elliott Sadler has been helping me so much,” Byron said. “We’re able to talk about restarts or what happened last weekend, little things that make a big difference, knowing what to do inside the car with switches, how to get the best restarts, how to communicate with your team. He’s been a great resource.”

Byron added the same holds true with team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“It’s really cool. He’s really involved with our team,” Byron said. “I grew up watching him and now being able to talk to him and get to know him and talk about racing, just trying to learn from him.”

Despite finishing a strong fifth in the final NCWTS standings last year, Byron said it was a “no-brainer” to accept team owner Rick Hendrick’s offer to join his championship-winning juggernaut.

“With the people I have around me, I have a ton of support,” said Byron, who won’t turn 20 until late November. “There’s a transition period that’s difficult as a rookie, but that’s mainly on my end. There’s really a system there in place for someone like me to come in. It’s been good getting to know my guys and we’re working well together. We have a great program at JRM and we’re hitting our stride.”

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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