William Byron won his first-ever career Cup race in his 98 Cup start in the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway.
Before the race, Byron was competing with Matt DiBenedetto and Jimmie Johnson for the two playoffs spot for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. However, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate couldn’t qualify for the playoffs in his final season as a full-time Cup driver. B
Byron’s No. 24 team has a connection with Johnson in the No. 24 team’s crew chief Chad Knaus. Knaus served as Johnson’s crew chief for 17 years, winning seven championship title during the period.
After departing from his work with the No. 48 team, Knaus said that he wanted to earn victory without Johnson driving the car. On Daytona, Knaus achieved his goal.
“The one thing to be selfish from my standpoint is I wanted to get to Victory Lane with a car … without Jimmie Johnson’s (name) on top of the door. Nothing against Jimmie or any of that, but just to do it, to see if I could accomplish it.
“We’ve come close, had some really solid runs with the 24 car. Not as many this year as we would have liked to have had. To do it really means a lot, to be able to bring this team into the playoffs again.”
However, the No. 24 crew chief is not happy that his former driver and his best friend had to miss the playoffs.
“Let’s be quite honest, right? Jimmie shouldn’t be in this position. If it hadn’t been for COVID, him missing a race, he should have been solid in the playoffs. That hurts. I hate it for Jimmie. He’s one of my best friends. He was the first guy that came by pit road and looked up at me, revved up the engine, gave me a thumbs up. He means the world to me. He’s a great man and brother of mine.
“It hurts me, but it is what we do, we compete. We’ve got to go do what we need to do.”