Xfinity rookies try out the Track Too Tough To Tame

William Byron takes the No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet around Darlington Raceway during a test session Wednesday, May 17.
Photos by Mellissa Rollins

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

Last week two rookie drivers in the Xfinity Series, William Byron and Tyler Reddick, took a run at Darlington Raceway, giving the Track Too Tough To Tame all they had. The Lady in Black was kind and didn’t leave too many scars. The young racers both said it was a memorable experience for them.

“Driving at Darlington for the first time is really cool,” Byron said. “It is unlike anywhere else we go; it is so narrow. Charlotte is pretty narrow but this place is as fast as Charlotte and it is narrow so you have to run close to the wall, which is fun but also kind of treacherous.”

Tyler Reddick

Byron said that because the Darlington Raceway is so different, drivers have to stay on their game the entire time they are on the track.

“You have to be on your toes every lap,” Byron said. “You can’t really take a chance to rest and sit back and think about things. Every lap you have to think about where you’re entry is and how much break you’re using or it can bite you like that. This is one of those places every lap you have to approach it differently, keep working and focus on your marks.”

Being on JR Motorsports team, Byron said that Dale Earnhardt Jr’s. announcement that he would be retiring at the end of the season has brought out a lot of emotions.

“It is definitely emotional,” Byron said. “It is definitely just something that we all have to experience and go through and support him. It is really cool to watch the rest of this year and see how he races and how involved he is with our team. We go cycling together and do different things together so it has been a lot of fun getting to know him that way. Hopefully in the future he will support our team, which he does already, and just make our team better.”

Byron said that he is focusing on what he needs to do to get his team to the top.

William Byron

“We would like to have a win or so and I think that will come, we just have to continue to compete and figure out what we need to do to get faster,” Byron said. “I think so far (the Xfinity Series) has been a good challenge and it has been something I’ve enjoyed and I’m just trying to take it all in and trying to go to all the different race tracks and adapt and acclimate myself as quickly as I can.”

Tyler Reddick, a driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, said that he was also enjoying his time on the track.

“The opportunity to be at Darlington is great,” Reddick said. “Fortunately, this track had some rubber laid down in the last two days so it is pretty close to what it would be in a practice situation for us if we come here.”

Reddick said that he was finding out just how different it is to drive Darlington.

“You drive this place very different than you would any other track; it is shaped different than most of the racetracks this size,” Reddick said. “Its funny because the first time you come here you drive turn one and two and you lift and you realize you don’t need to lift that much on one and two. Three and four couldn’t be more opposite: you have to lift all the way out and be very patient with the throttle. It is a really fun racetrack.”

Reddick said that he was feeling confident in his car and was working on finding out how to get the most out of it.

“The 42 car has been really good the last few years; it had great speed,” Reddick said. “That takes a lot of pressure off of me knowing that the car is really good. At the same time, you’ve got to…go out there and run the lap times that the car is capable of. It took a little bit of time to get an understanding of it (Darlington). We took some of the morning to just get up to speed. I feel like we put down some really good laps we just have to work on the long run speed and balance.”

Both Byron and Reddick said that they had earned their Darlington stripes.

“The worst part is I hit the wall already and I hit it trying to run the bottom,” Reddick said. “I didn’t just hit it a little bit, I hit it a lot. Unfortunately they are having to fix it now when the guys should be eating lunch and they’re not too happy with me. I’m going to have to make it up to them by not hitting the wall anymore.”

Author: Duane Childers

Share This Post On

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Posts Remaining