MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 18, 2016) – William Byron has raced at many new tracks this year during his rookie season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS), but this Wednesday’s race may be his biggest challenge yet. He has quickly adapted to racing on bigger tracks, as three of his four wins this season have come on mile-and-a-half tracks, but adapting to dirt is a whole different story. Wednesday night will be Byron’s first start on a dirt track and he’ll be doing it at one of the most legendary dirt tracks in the country, Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Until a few weeks ago, Byron had never even driven on dirt. He spent a day practicing in a dirt late model at Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, Ga., on his way home after winning at Kentucky Speedway. After a few laps he was hooked and is looking forward to racing his No. 9 Liberty University Tundra at Eldora. He also has a Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) teammate with quite a bit of dirt experience to call on for advice. Christopher Bell spent his entire racing career driving open-wheel cars on dirt tracks around the country until joining KBM and making the move to paved tracks. Bell won the NCWTS race at Eldora last year and the half-mile dirt oval ranks among his favorite tracks.
KBM teams have won twice at the half-mile clay oval across eight starts. In addition to Bell’s win last year, Darrell Wallace Jr., claimed the Golden Shovel in 2014. KBM Tundras have paced the field for 227 laps and have four top-five finishes. For the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby, Byron will be racing the same Tundra which Erik Jones drove to a fourth-place finish last year after starting 19th.
Although the 18-year-old rookie has never raced on dirt before, it would be a mistake to count him out of competing for the win Wednesday night. Byron has shown a knack for picking up on new tracks pretty quickly, and with the help of his crew and teammates, he may be able to make the dirt fly on his way to Victory Lane.
William Byron, Driver of the No. 9 NCWTS Liberty University Tundra:
Talk about your first time on dirt last week in a late model:
“My first time on dirt in a late model was awesome last weekend. It was so different sliding around, and a lot of the techniques are the opposite of asphalt racing, but I had a lot of fun and am really looking forward to trying it in a truck at Eldora this week.”
Have you asked your KBM teammate Christopher Bell for advice since he’s got so much experience on dirt?
“I’ve been able to get a lot of advice from Christopher lately. He’s been so helpful and I got the chance to go to Eldora and watch him Friday in the sprint car. Since I was racing the KBM late model in Anderson, Ind., we decided to drive over and check it out. It was really cool to watch him in a sprint car.”
What is your goal for the Eldora race since it’s your first dirt race?
“Honestly, our goal every time we go to the race track is to win, so Eldora will be no different. I won’t put the pressure on myself like I do at our other tracks, but I still would love to get the Golden Shovel.”
Rudy Fugle, Crew Chief of the No. 9 NCWTS Liberty University Tundra:
What is your strategy for Eldora since it will be William’s first race on dirt?
“Eldora is more like a low-grip asphalt race than a dirt race with the way the trucks drive and the tires are, so I; think William will do fine. We’ll just go slow and steady in practice, kind of like we’ve been doing at these new tracks, and by the time we get to the middle of the race he knows what he’s doing. Hopefully the same thing will work out. Either way we’re just going to go have some fun and be competitive.”
William Byron’s No. 9 Liberty University Tundra:
KBM-X134: The No. 9 Liberty University team will race KBM-X134, for Wednesday’s Dirt Derby at Eldora. This is the same Tundra Erik Jones drove to a fourth-place finish at Eldora last year.
KBM NCWTS @ Eldora
- KBM drivers have collected two wins, 227 laps led, four top-five and five top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.5 across eight starts at Eldora
- KBM has won the last two events at the half-mile dirt oval; Christopher Bell led 106 of 154 laps in last year’s event en route to his first-career NCWTS victory last year and Darrell Wallace Jr., led a race-high 97 laps en route to victory in the 2014 event
The Fugle File:
Fugle begins his third season as a crew chief at KBM and fifth overall with the team. Under his tutelage last season, Erik Jones posted three wins, five poles, 925 laps led, 11 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes en route to becoming the youngest champion in Truck Series history and the first driver to collect both the Rookie of the Year and the series title in the same year. The duo also nabbed KBM its record-breaking fourth Truck Series Owner’s championship last season, which was the second with Fugle calling the shots. In 2013, he led KBM’s No. 51 Tundra team to a series-leading six wins and an Owner’s Championship. Entering 2016, the New York native’s Truck Series drivers have totaled nine wins, six poles, 21 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes across his 44 races atop the pit box for KBM.
Fugle has one top-five finish as a crew chief in two starts at Eldora in the Truck Series. Erik Jones finished fourth last year after starting back in 19th place.