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USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

He is the next Jeff Gordon to take this team, grab it by the reign, and lead it into the next era.” That’s what Kyle Petty had to say about the driver of the #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy after he sealed another dominant win this season at COTA. With two wins already in the books this season, William Byron is slowly surpassing fan favorites such as Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott as one of NASCAR’s brightest stars. With that said, what exactly makes William Byron such a formidable force on track every weekend?

The key to Byron’s Cup Series dominance lies within the #24 garage

Over the past two years, William Byron and the #24 Garage have outperformed nearly every team in terms of their winning potential. From bringing in two wins in 2022 to winning six just next year, the trend in Byron’s success is hard to match, let alone beat. So what exactly changed in the last two years that has led to such growth? The Door Bumper Clear crew certainly had one answer!

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Speaking to co-hosts Freddie Kraft, TJ Majors, and Casey Boat, veteran spotter Brett Griffin stated; “I just looked, William Byron has won eight of the last forty-two races, basically 20% of his starts in the last two years. That’s really good. I mean, 12 wins total, but the majority of them have come in the last two years. Since he got hooked up with Rudy, right?”

That’s right, ever since William Byron reunited with the crew chief Rudy Fugle, whom Kyle Busch adored during his time at KBM, the pair have been unstoppable. Reflecting on their chemistry, Freddie Kraft added, “Yeah, for sure. That definitely flipped a switch for William. And you know, sometimes like, it was Chad before Rudy, and we’ve seen in the past. Chad is not the easiest guy in the world to work with. He expects and demands a lot, and sometimes things don’t gel like that.” 

Considering Chad Knaus’ tough love, Kraft believed that Byron’s talent truly shined under the guidance of Rudy Fugle. Together, the pair had come close to Truck Series glory in 2016 after winning seven races but losing out owing to misfortunes. With the two eager to overcome that blunder with a Cup championship, Kraft believes the stars are lining up for the #24 Hendrick Motorsports outfit.

Kraft concluded. “They (Fugle and Byron) kicked everybody’s ass when they ran trucks together. They should have dominated and won a championship. I think they blew a motor in the playoffs and were eliminated before the end of the year, but once they got back together now, they just clicked.” 

READ MORE: Rudy Fugle: Meet William Byron’s Crew Chief in Hendrick Motorsports

While it’s true that Rudy Fugle plays an enormous role in the success of the #24 garage, Kevin Harvick also revealed another major factor behind the HMS driver’s lightning-fast rise to glory.

The edge William Byron has over Cup Series veterans according to Kevin Harvick

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It’s no secret that William Byron hasn’t had the most orthodox path to the Cup Series. After all, only a few years ago, the Charlotte native was racing virtually, without any idea where the future would take him. While it may have been quite an uncertain time for the Byron family, Kevin Harvick believes that all the stars lined up at just the right time for Byron. “you look at a kid like William Byron, he’s what got five years of Cup experience maybe four years before this car?” said Harvick on the latest episode of Harvick’s Happy Hour.

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William Byron had relatively little experience behind the wheel of a stock car before the Next Gen Era compared to his peers. With how different the Next Gen cars are, it’s no wonder drivers used to the older gen like Busch and Elliott have been struggling. But for Byron, his freshness to the series played right into his hands. Harvick stated, “I think there’s a high level of work and commitment that comes to being around this car, in the shop, in the simulator, and I think William Byron is a great example of being able to outwork your competition.” 

READ MORE: Penalty Stricken Chase Elliott Has Crew Chief Criticizing NASCAR’s Stringent Policing at COTA

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Yeah, he’s one of the hardest working guys in the garage, and he’s in the sim whether it’s at the Chevy joint or just at his own house. He’s just constantly working on it.

It’ll be interesting to see where Byron ends up this season if he’ll be able to win the championship and lead the HMS as Gordon or not.