The youth movement in NASCAR has been at an all-time high and William Byron, the 2017 Xfnity Series champion, has completed a very successful sophomore campaign in the Cup Series.
The 22-year-old finished the 2019 season with career numbers with 13 top 10s, five top fives and five poles and made the playoffs for the first time in his career.
The 2019 season also embarked on a new chapter of his career with seven-time champion crew chief Chad Knaus. Rolling into Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway it was quite clear the No.24 Camaro had a good level of pace after capturing his first career pole.
However, Byron’s Daytona 500 had some moment of brightness after leading 44 laps before getting caught up in the "Big One" to finish 17th to start the season.
Following the opening weekend, it was a bit of a rocky start for the No. 24 team with only one top-10 finish in the first seven races of the season. Things would eventually pickup for paring of Byron and Knaus during the month of May after capturing a pole and two top-10 finishes at both Charlotte Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway.
"I would say in the beginning we were not super comfortable talking to each other about the car and what needed to be discussed," Byron said. "We kind of tip toed around it at the very beginning but we were struggling so we really had to start diving into the details more.
"Once we got to May we started to click, a couple of those poles. The (Coca-Cola) 600 was a good one and everything started to mesh as the summer and then it kept progressing as the year went on. So, I didn’t feel like we stopped learning and getting better"
After a fourth-place finish at Indianapolis, Byron and his team kept the momentum going by coming home with another top 10 at Las Vegas to start the 10-week playoff grind. Going into Richmond the No. 24 wasn’t as fortunate, but a sixth-place finish at the Charlotte Roval advanced him into the second round.
Moving into the second round of the playoffs Byron finished 13th at Dover to get things started. Unfortunately, he was involved in a late wreck at Talladega Superspeedway with 26 laps to go and finished the day in 23rd.
His first playoff run would come to a close at Kansas Speedway despite capturing a fifth-place finish after starting in 25th.
While being knocked out of the playoffs, Byron finished the season with one more top five at Martinsville Speedway and closed the season in Homestead in 39th place after having engine problems.
"I think it was a really good year, we put ourselves in contention for a lot of races and we took that next step as a team to continue to progress," Byron said. "We accomplished a lot of goals that we had, not all of them but a lot of them.
"I think going into next year we have pretty much the same group of guys coming back and that’s going to help a lot. Definitely proud of our progress this year."
Motor Racing Network will continue our 2019 season reviews on Wednesday, Dec. 18 with a look at the 12th-place finisher Alex Bowman.
2019 Driver Season Reviews