With veteran Chad Knaus’ move to a management position at Hendrick Motorsports, Byron will be on his third crew chief when he starts his fourth fulltime Cup season in 2021.
Byron, however, has a successful history with Rudy Fugle, having won seven races in 23 starts in the Truck Series in 2016 while both worked at Kyle Busch Motorsports.
“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,” Byron, 23, said. “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 naive 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.”
In three Cup seasons, Byron has nine top-five and 31 top-10 finishes in 108 starts and picked up his first series victory in 2020 at Daytona in August.
Becoming a weekly challenger
While he has advanced to the playoffs the past two seasons, Byron believes his next important step in his career is to become a challenger for race victories on a regular basis.
“The pole positions that we had in 2019 when we were qualifying was great. The race win, the Duel win – all those things are good things, which kind of establishes us as a contender; somebody who can potentially win,” Byron said.
“But I think now, it’s just being a consistent threat and being somebody that each week. That’s the goal this year – just to take a step from winning one race and try to take a step towards winning multiple.
“And even if not maybe the wins, just being in contention for multiple, which is definitely the next step.”
While there is no off-season testing and still little physical interaction during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Byron has had the chance to meet with Fugle already to discuss the upcoming season.
Byron, now six years old than when he previously worked with Fugle, said he can already tell a difference in their working relationship.
“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 (Busch) did it’. Now, it’s more like OK, here’s my experience; here’s the things I focus on,” Byron said.
“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.”