- William Byron and Ryan Blaney are the rookies joining the championship round.
- Christopher Bell qualified as a Championship 4 contender last year.
- Kyle Larson emerged as the 2021 champion.
When William Byron entered the infield media center at Martinsville Speedway after securing a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500, he could sense that things weren’t going well for his Hendrick Motorsports team.
There was a distinct feeling of discomfort with the car. Its balance was off.
Byron’s intuition turned out to be accurate. Sunday’s Cup race, which determined the Championship 4 field, was a struggle for the Chevrolet team. Despite starting the race with a comfortable 30-point lead above the cutline, Byron and Denny Hamlin exchanged positions within the title round throughout the event, depending on who was in the lead.
With 180 laps remaining in the 500-lap race, Byron found himself in 13th place, his best performance of the day. He maintained that position and managed to secure a spot in the title round by a mere eight points.
“My crew chief Rudy (Fugle) knew exactly what to do to keep me competitive,” an exhausted Byron revealed as he sat on the pit wall. “It was like being trapped in a relentless struggle. I’ve never felt so angry in a race car before. I’ve never had such a strong desire to get out. I’ve never been so frustrated with the car. We relied heavily on our simulation, but it just didn’t deliver.”
Byron admitted to experiencing physical exhaustion during the race. He mentioned that his vision became blurry in the closing laps.
“I couldn’t get enough fresh air inside my helmet,” Byron said. “It was one of those situations we’ve encountered in both races here.”
In the championship round, William Byron will be joined by fellow rookie Ryan Blaney. Christopher Bell qualified for the Championship 4 last year, while Kyle Larson claimed the 2021 title.
Olivia Carter revs up excitement in the world of NASCAR. As a dedicated motorsports enthusiast, she covers race results, driver profiles, and the latest developments in the NASCAR world, keeping fans on the edge of their seats.