William Byron, Rudy Fugle reunite for 'taste' of victory

Just three races into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron already has a precious reminder of his previous experience working with crew chief Rudy Fugle – victory.

In 2016, while both were at Kyle Busch Motorsports, Byron and Fugle combined to win a series-high seven races. While a blown engine at Phoenix kept him out of championship contention that season, 2016 remains Byron’s most dominate in NASCAR national series competition.

That may well be ready to change.

Fugle joined Hendrick Motorsports in the offseason to become Byron’s crew chief in the Cup Series this season and the reunion is off to a stellar start.

Byron put in a dominating performance in Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and held off a late charge from Tyler Reddick to earn his second career win and first of the 2021 season.

Byron and his No. 24 Chevrolet team are now safely locked into the 2021 playoffs.

“Getting Rudy on board and just having a guy like that to work with. We really think the same way, and it helps us in a lot of ways to progress through races and communicate well and work through the off-season,” Byron, 23, said.

“Obviously you have to back it up with results, so I think for me, I wanted to make sure we had results, but I think the results come when you have people like that to work with. You think on the same page, and somebody who puts that kind of effort in.

“He puts a lot of effort in, but he’s obviously very intelligent. I feel like for me, it goes back to the Truck days and what we did there and the feelings that I had in those race cars and the things that I wanted to have in my Cup car and the feelings there.”

Fugle has not had a lot of time to adjust to how things are done at HMS but has relied heavily on fellow crew chief Alan Gustafson to get up to speed.

Back to their winning ways

The working relationship with Byron seemed to pick up where it left off nearly five years ago.

“What I brought was a knowledge of William,” Fugle said. “But when you have people that are experienced in Cup, as long as they pair up and work well together, Adam (Stevens) and Christopher (Bell) are both great. You put them together, I knew they were going to be great this year, as well.

“What helped us about the previous relationship was the fact that we’ve worked together before and I knew him, I knew how to push his buttons, I knew how to motivate him, and that helped buy me some time to learn these Cup cars that I don’t know yet, so I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Fugle called the opportunity to reunite with Byron at Hendrick and move to the Cup Series simply “the right situation.”

“I had a great job. The past nine years at Kyle Busch Motorsports I had an amazing job, so it had to be the right situation for sure to move on,” he said. “And then I just wanted to prove that I could – to everyone, to myself, to everybody – that yeah, I could do it at this level.

“So, we want to do it a whole lot more. It’s only my first win, so we’ve definitely got to get my second win and the next one after that. As a group, this is just great.”

Byron, too, is looking to continue to contend for more wins, particularly since Fugle and his team can take more chances now that they are locked in the playoffs.

“After the first win (last year), I think what clicked for me was just the hunger to taste the same feeling, like how exciting it is to win and what that means to the guys around you and your family and all the people that kind of put you here,” Byron said.

“I think once you get that taste in your mouth, you can’t really get rid of it. You want that.”

Read Also:

shares
comments

Related video

McDowell on Homestead: "We kind of shocked ourselves"
Previous article

McDowell on Homestead: "We kind of shocked ourselves"

Next article

Several NASCAR drivers to get early look at Bristol Dirt Track

Several NASCAR drivers to get early look at Bristol Dirt Track
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021