LONG POND, Pa. —
A lot has changed for William Byron between the two NASCAR weekends at Pocono Raceway.
The Camping World Truck Series driver ran the 200-mile ARCA event there in June to get track time before Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 150.
Coming into this weekend, Byron enters Pocono as the points leader and won three of the last five Truck Series events.
“It’s been great to get the three wins in the summertime like we have and June was just a great month with Texas and Iowa, and then Kentucky was a good mile-and-a-half race for us,” Byron said. “Kind of glad to get back to a normal race here and off the dirt and hopefully we can get a good result this weekend. I think we’ll have a really fast truck.”
“The ARCA car just gave me a feel for this racetrack and how everything handles. That’s more important than anything because this place is so different with three corners and they’re all totally different from each other. Hopefully, they gave us a little bit of an advantage come this weekend.”
He picked up his first career Truck win at Kansas in May and out-ran two-time series champ Matt Crafton in June’s Texas race. The winning didn’t stop there after storming to the front in the closing laps at Iowa and scoring the first win on the newly-repaved Kentucky Speedway.
The same success the 18-year-old driver fared in 2016 didn’t translate to last week’s Aspen Dental Dirt Derby at Eldora. Byron struggled throughout the two days at the Ohio dirt track and came home in 14th place.
“It was wild and totally different and I just tried to learn as much as I can and have fun with it,” Byron said. “It was tough, so we’re just glad to get back on asphalt and get something that we can race with.”
The difference between running ARCA and Trucks at Pocono is ARCA drivers can’t shift while Truck competitors have the option to during their race. It is more prevalent in Cup, but Byron talked about whether to shift or not in Saturday’s race.
“I don’t think we’ll do a ton of shifting just with the on-throttle time that the trucks have. I know the Cup cars do, but I think the truck handles pretty well and hopefully we can stay pretty close to wide-open through the Tunnel Turn and that’ll be interesting in a truck. We’ll see what happens.”
Trucks have the most diverse schedule in NASCAR ranging from short tracks to superspeedways to dirt. The bumpy Kentucky Speedway was repaved this season and the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver took home the trophy after crashing early in last September’s ARCA race there.”Kentucky with the repave was really important not to make mistakes because the place was so grippy that once you got out of the groove, you were done. A lot of the passes I made to get to the front were guys slipping up and making mistakes. We got from 10th to first on one of the restarts and that was really the key to the whole race was maintaining the lead and those guys had good trucks and we had a couple of vibrations and some things going on, so just good to hold on to it.”
“Kentucky with the repave was really important not to make mistakes because the place was so grippy that once you got out of the groove, you were done. A lot of the passes I made to get to the front were guys slipping up and making mistakes. We got from 10th to first on one of the restarts and that was really the key to the whole race was maintaining the lead and those guys had good trucks and we had a couple of vibrations and some things going on, so just good to hold on to it.”
“The old layout, you had a lot of character. The new layout’s going to take some years to get some rubber into it and some wear on it to be able to move around. They did a great job with the repave and I think it’s going eventually get to a place that we can race pretty well.”
“Just watching tapes and videos and trying to talk to Kyle a little bit about what I should feel here. If I have any issues after practice, I’ll talk to him and try to get a better feel for when I get to qualifying. Hopefully, our truck’s pretty strong here and we can just make minor adjustments for the race.”
Audio with William Byron: