MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 14, 2017) – William Byron’s ascent to the NASCAR Xfinity Series as a development driver for Hendrick Motorsports officially kicked off earlier this month at Phoenix International Raceway, and he and the No. 9 Liberty University team went last week to Atlanta Motor Speedway for a two-day test session.
Now that it’s over, Byron has a good idea what to expect when the races begin for real at Daytona.
“I think the Phoenix test was really good, we had some other guys out there and a lot of guys helping,” the 19-year-old Charlotte, N.C. native said. “A lot of effort went into that test, so it was really good to get those first laps in the car under my belt.”
More important, perhaps, was the fact that he and crew chief Dave Elenz got to work together in a competition setting. Elenz, who has worked with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne, among others, in his two seasons at JRM, said Byron did very well from a communication standpoint.
“It went fine,” Elenz said. “He and I seemed to get along pretty well, and we’ve been together a couple of times at a couple of different tests. He’s very open and his feedback was very good. He seemed to relate well, and his demeanor in the car is very calm.”
The Phoenix test was more a familiarization run with crew chief Dave Elenz and the new engineering team of Brandon McSwain and Phillip Bell. The Atlanta test, which took place last Thursday and Friday, was more a full-on race prep test.
“The test at Atlanta Motor Speedway was really good,” Byron said. “That was my first time in a NASCAR Xfinity Series car on a 1.5-mile track with the new aero package. We got to make some long runs and found a good balance throughout the two-day test.”
Elenz was happy with the way the two tests worked out—both were with the 2017 rules package for short-track and intermediate tracks, respectively—and said he was satisfied with the information gained.
“It was a pretty successful test,” Elenz said. “We learned a lot of things and William did a good job getting up to speed. We worked through the items we needed to with the 2017 rules, and it’s nice to have the intermediate test out of the way and we can get the season started.”
Now, of course, after getting used to the car on a 1-mile oval and a 1.5-mile oval, Byron now faces the season opener at Daytona, a 2.5 mile track with a completely different aero package. Undeterred, Byron is looking forward to getting the season under way.
“The guys worked really hard throughout both test sessions and I can’t wait to get to the track in Daytona,” he said.