William Byron is fresh off not only one, but two wins last weekend. The Charlotte native won a super late model race at Hickory Motor Speedway last Saturday. Then last Sunday, he finished out front at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his third career win in NASCAR’s top series.
The 24-year-old pulled a Kyle Larson and expeditiously traveled between tracks, completing a weekend sweep. Byron said Larson’s extracurricular racing has influenced his own.
“How much he races definitely sparked my interest in trying it,” Byron said. “Because I feel like it’s a lot better doing that than just sitting on your hands and thinking about the (Cup) race the next day.”
Byron said that he has more to-be-announced short track races on his schedule this season. But this weekend, his focus is on COTA, the Austin-based road course where NASCAR runs Sunday at 3:30 pm on Fox.
Byron spoke with The Observer about how a win this weekend could make him a better driver candidate for Le Mans, his Carolina sports fandom and his completed 9,000-piece LEGO set.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Alex Andrejev: What was your schedule like last weekend? I saw that you (won) at Hickory. Have you done that race before?
William Byron: It was certainly crazy. I’ve never done that race and never ran with that series, but it was the same cars that I’ve been racing, and it was a lot of fun to go back and forth, to be honest. I really enjoy doing the added (races). I hope to do a lot more of those. I have a few of those scheduled this year where I go back and forth between tracks, so it should be cool to do those.
AA: How much is this a change for you? And what led to you wanting to do more short-track racing during the Cup season?
WB: It’s definitely new, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years. I did two of them last year in the summer months that were weekends I was racing in the Cup car, and this year, I wanted to do it the right way and have the right team and all those things. This year was a little different, kinda put it together differently and just seeing what Kyle (Larson) has been doing the last couple of years and how much he definitely races sparked my interest to try it, because I feel like it’s a lot better doing that than just sitting on your hands and thinking about the race the next day. So it’s good to do something that sparked my interest and also learn some things as I go.
AA: This question is about a very different style of race. I’m sure you’re aware of the recent announcement about the Next Gen car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2023. Would you like to be a driver in that race for Hendrick Motorsports or has there been any discussion or consideration for that ?
WB: I’d love to be part of it. I don’t know what direction they’ll go. I talked to Mr. H about it probably a week ago, so it was cool to talk to him about it and hear what it’s all about. To put in my best effort to get on the driver lineup would be to win a few road course races this year, so maybe we can start with this weekend. If we can do that, then maybe I’ll be eligible to drive. That’d be cool.
AA: How are you feeling about COTA? It’s expected to be very different weather conditions this year.
WB: Certainly it’ll be a lot different than last year. We showed up last year, it was raining and the track was new to all of us, so we were still trying to figure out the racetrack while it was raining. So I think this year it’s gonna be a lot different. We’ll have a chance to practice and learn and hopefully it’s gonna be dry all weekend. It seems like it will be, so that’ll help with our learning curve.
AA: Unrelated, I know you’re a Hornets and Panthers fan, so I’ve gotta ask if you’ve been following Charlotte FC at all. How aware are you of the new Major League Soccer team in town?
WB: I haven’t really followed the early developments with it, but I saw some highlights of a game and it seemed pretty exciting, so I might have to go to a game. I’m not a soccer fan, but I could maybe start to become a fan because it’s in Charlotte. I’ve been going to a lot of Hurricanes games. I’m pretty excited about what they’re doing there. They’re doing really well this year, so it’s exciting to see how they’re going.
AA: They’re definitely doing the best of those teams.
WB: Hopefully, the Panthers will get it together. The Hornets, they look good. They look like they’re gonna make the playoffs.
AA: I also want to ask about was your plans to appear on LEGO Masters on Fox. Is that still in the works?
WB: Yeah, that’s still gonna happen, so I’m excited for it. I think we’re doing it I believe before Bristol dirt, about a month from now. But I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s gonna be great to do. I’m not sure what kind of things they’re doing with us, but I’m sure it’ll be something crazy, which is pretty awesome. I think anything with LEGOs is cool.
AA: So is it just you and Jeff (Gordon) that will appear on it?
WB: Well, I don’t want to give away anything. I think there will probably be some other people involved, but we’ll see. I’m not totally sure, to be honest, but I think it’ll be fun.
AA: What’s the biggest set you’ve built before?
WB: I did the Titanic LEGO set this offseason. That was 9,000 pieces, so that was a lot of pieces, a lot of effort to get that done, but it was rewarding after it was done because I worked on it for so long during the offseason. I think I started before Christmas and finished in February, so it was a long process.
AA: So it must’ve been like a foot or two-feet high.
WB: Yeah, it was probably a foot-and-a-half tall and about five-feet long. So pretty crazy. It’s in my room actually and sits under the TV. It’s a good thing to look at and it’s definitely cool how it all came together.