William Byron and Rudy Fugle will be reuniting next season as the driver-crew chief combination for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 24, looking to repeat the success they found in the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series in 2016 when the pair tallied seven victories together.
“I think that Rudy will really fill this role well,” Byron said. “We’ve got a great history together and he’s just a tremendous talent and I feel like he’s just a really hard worker too. It’s going to be fun to work with him and build on that success we had a few years ago together.
“Our communication is strong; he knows me extremely well,” Byron continued. “We’ve had success, which always helps kind of know what a driver needs and wants in the car or truck. I do feel like it might take a little bit to adjust to the Cup car, but Rudy’s knowledge is second to none. He’s an engineer and he’s got a lot of great knowledge to build on and learn from. Having a crew chief who knows how to make something go fast is critical. I think he’ll really adapt to the Cup car well.”
Byron knows it will take some adapting on his part as well as he goes from seven-time Cup Series champion Chad Knaus to Fugle.
“I think it’s two very different styles,” the Charlotte, North Carolina, native said. “I’ve worked with a variety of crew chiefs and, for better or worse, I’ve kind of been put with a lot of different crew chiefs because I’ve moved to different teams and I’ve grown up relatively fast in the sport. So, I’ve learned a lot of different styles. I think I’ve learned quite a few things with Chad that were different than maybe what I did with Rudy at KBM. So, it’s kind of meshing the two styles together. Definitely I feel, like Rudy said, that I’ve matured since I worked with him. I was really young and really kind of naïve in the Truck Series at 17 or 18 years old. So, I think a lot has changed since then. But, at the same time, we can definitely apply a lot of the things that we did back then in our communication and our style together. So, I don’t think it’s going to take us too long to really kind of hit where we were back then and kind of apply some of the new things, too.
“When I was with Rudy in the Truck Series, a lot of the time, it was him telling me ‘here’s how we used to do it’ or ‘here’s how Kyle did it’. Now, it’s more – OK, here’s my experience, here’s the things I focus on. He’s not having to tell me as much about certain things or certain ideas. We’re kind of on the same playing field when it comes to the things that we’re contributing. It was definitely a lot more of him contributing to my learning curve in the past versus, now, I think we’re closer to equal. I think that’s going to be a head start in itself.”
Byron, who earned his first Cup Series victory in 2020 to go with four top-five finishes and 14 top 10s, is ready to take the next step in NASCAR’s highest level.
“I think now, it’s just being a consistent threat and being somebody that each week and each track we go to is not really a weakness, and we can identify some of those small details that are going to take us to that top five or six group of teams that get to the Final Eight and, hopefully, the Final Four. So, yeah I think just figuring out how to make that next step to not just be kind of a one-time winner each year.”