In just two and a half years competing as a race car driver, William Byron has made a name for himself by displaying a strong ability to adapt. No matter the type of race car or type of race track, Byron has caught on quickly and had success. On Sunday, March 15 at the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco season-opening Rattler 250, the Charlotte, North Carolina driver will attempt to impress a new group of fans at South Alabama Speedway.
While his start on Sunday will be Byron’s first ever start in The Rattler, and just his second Super Late Model start ever, he’s had good results in the few Late Model races he’s competed in. Whether it’s in a Super, a Pro Late Model or a Late Model Stock Car, Byron just seems to find his way to the front at the end of races.
He’s hoping that will be the case once again on Sunday afternoon in Kinston, Alabama.
“It’s kind of a cool thing, actually,” said Byron. “In my first Late Model Stock race I finished second with JR Motorsports last year. In my first Pro Late Model race I finished second at South Alabama. In the Super I would have finished third in my first start but we had that one taken away (Byron failed post-race technical inspection after the Pete Orr Memorial at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway).”
But for someone with such little experience in a Super Late Model, 250 laps at South Alabama Speedway with the Southern Super Series is a tough place to head to. But that doesn’t seem to faze Byron the slightest bit.
“I want to be in the biggest races I can,” Byron told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It’s always important to get out with the best guys because that’s the only way you can really learn. So I want to enter the big races and I feel that’s going to help me the most for my K&N stuff.”
Byron has been moving up the racing ladder fast. He started racing Legends Cars in 2013 when he was 15 years old. Just two years later he now finds himself behind the wheel of an HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks-owned race car in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, as well as in the seat of a Late Model Stock Car for JR Motorsports, all with backing from Liberty University in Virginia.
Even though he’s quickly moved through the ranks, Byron is still staying humble about it all. He explained that he feels like he’s living a dream.
“I’ve always watched racing since I was six years old,” he said. “My family never had any connection to it but I loved it. I went to races to watch just as a spectator. Now I’m in the cars that I always watched. I’d watch the K&N races on TV with Joey Logano and guys like that. Now I’m in those races.
“It’s an adjustment but it’s kind of a dream come true. It’s pretty surreal every time I hit the track. I’m just thankful to be there honestly.”
While everything still may feel surreal to Byron, he’s still doing everything he can to try to win. He’s teamed up with setup guru Jeff Fultz who won The Rattler 250 in 2010. Byron is confident that he’ll be competing for wins with Fultz in the 10-12 Super Late Model races that they run together this season.
He finds additional confidence as a result of finishing second in his only start at the track in a Late Model last season.
“I have a good feel for the track,” said Byron. “I know exactly what I need to look for just because of that racing experience (from last year). And I have good people around me. Jeff has won this race. He won it in 2010, so that’s big.”
But the goal for this race isn’t a victory, according to Byron. He said he wants to run in the top-five and make a positive impression on his competitors.
However, that doesn’t mean he won’t do what he can to win if he finds himself in that position late in the race on Sunday.
“It’s definitely a fine line,” said Byron. “I’ve learned how to race respectfully, but you also have to race for the win. You can’t lie down and let someone win it. I’ll do whatever I feel is right in the moment. If it’s one lap to go and I’m in that position, I’m going to make the move that feels right.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo