Home Cartoon shows trip with Gordon paid dividends for Byron in Martinsville | Sports News

trip with Gordon paid dividends for Byron in Martinsville | Sports News


By HANK KURZ Jr., AP Sports Reporter

William Byron knew when he took over the #24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports that Martinsville Speedway was more than a little special.

If he had any doubts, a field trip with car owner Jeff Gordon made it clear.

“When I was a rookie, Jeff was like, ‘Hey, let’s go up to Martinsville together.’ It wasn’t even a question, it was, ‘Hey, let’s ride together to Martinsville. I want to show you some things,” Byron said after becoming the first multiple NASCAR’s Cup Series winner of the season at the track Saturday night.

Gordon showed Byron around the 0.526 mile oval, shared some pointers and saw the trip pay off when Byron finished second in a race there against Martin Truex Jr.

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Byron had three more top 10 finishes on four subsequent visits, then put it all together on a cold night when the weather made tire wear a non-factor. He also showed some chop as the favorite, hanging on to the lead in a two-lap dash to the finish with Joey Logano trying to push him out of the way.

Victory in a race he led for 212 laps added a second grandfather clock trophy to his run; he won the first of the Truck Series two nights earlier.

And that has impressed the boss, who attributes the success to the chemistry Byron has with team leader Rudy Fugle, and possibly some of his own tutelage.

“I’ve just seen this team evolve,” said Gordon, who has won nine times on the track. “They’ve brought some great race cars. They’ve led laps. Now they’ve already won two races this year, and I think more will come.”

During the race, Byron and teammate Chase Elliott helped Team Hendrick achieve 10,000 laps led on the shortest track in the series, becoming the first organization to manage this at any track. The team won 27 races there, with seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson joining Gordon with nine of them.

The runway was also the destination of a plane that crashed in fog on a mountain in 2004, killing eight members of the organization, including the son of team owner Rick Hendrick, Ricky, and two members of crew one day when Johnson, unaware of what had happened. , visited a solemn Victory Lane.

It was that 2018 trip with Gordon, however, that came to the fore in Byron’s mind as the race unfolded, with him among the dominant cars.

“It’s definitely special, and he’s got, what, 93 wins and that much time,” he said of four-time series champion Gordon. “We’ve got a lot of clocks to run but it’s cool to get that advice from him. Those little things I learned from him in my rookie year that I haven’t really used for a few years , then as soon as I got to the front, I was like, okay, that makes sense.

Showing it by withstanding Logano’s challenge and leading as many laps as he has only makes Gordon more excited about the future of 24.

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