Chase Elliott’s championship win has increased the bar for Hendrick Motorsports driver, says William Byron.
With every retiring driver, Hendrick Motorsports replaces them with new ones with potential. Elliott replaced NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon in 2016. Byron and Alex Bowman came in for Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. respectively.
With seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson retiring in 2021, he was replaced by Kyle Larson.
Speaking about Elliott’s championship win and the changes within the HMS camp, Byron said:
“It’s definitely hit us. Seeing Chase go out there and win the championship like that was definitely a sign that we’re capable. The bar has been set for sure.
“Things have really evolved. I think about the first year when I was here in 2018 – how many growing pains there were for me, but also the race team to find our footing with three ‘new’ drivers and one veteran guy.
“Now, it’s four ‘new’ guys – and three of us have been here for a while now and established our trends and feelings inside the team and what we want in our race cars. The bar has been set, and it’s about going out there to achieve that.”
As for Byron, there is still one change that he will need to get accustomed to. He will have a new crew chief in Rudy Fugle from the 2021 season.
“I’ve learned a lot of different styles (with crew chiefs), but I’ve learned quite a few things with Chad that were different than maybe what I did with Rudy at KBM,” Byron said. “It’s kind of (about) meshing the two styles together. Rudy said that I’ve matured since I’ve worked with him. I was really young and really kind of naive when I was in the Truck Series at 17, 18 years old.
“A lot has changed since then, but at the same time, we can definitely apply a lot of the things we did back then in our communication and our style together. I don’t think it will take us too long to get where we were back then and also apply some of the new things, too.”
Going into the 2021 season, Byron would surely be thinking about how to improve on his 2020 performances.