Charlotte, N.C. (October 18, 2014) --- William Byron made his Pro Late Model debut on Saturday at South Alabama Speedway in the Alabama Pro 125 and was a quick study at the short track. Byron qualified second and finished second in a field filled with past race winners from the track. Byron drove a No. 9 Liberty University car for Daniel Hemric Racing in the 125-lap event. Hemric and Byron were friendly competitors on the U.S. Legend Car circuit.
“It was a really good race weekend,” said 16-year-old Byron. “This was a great opportunity for me and I wanted to make the most of it. I had never been to the track or raced a Pro Late Model, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. To finish second felt great and I’m really proud of the team. I can’t thank Daniel (Hemric) enough for putting together such a great program.”
Byron qualified second for the race behind NASCAR Nationwide Series point’s leader Chase Elliott. Elliott returned to the track to defend his 2013 win in the Alabama Pro 125. The field also included eventual race winner Mike Garvey, who has logged over 6,000 laps at the track and was a former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver.
Byron knew it would be important to manage the tires on his No. 9 Liberty University car for the 125-lap race following what the team learned in practice. As the tires wore down, the speeds dropped as much as a half a second a lap. Byron wanted to stay up towards the front, but didn’t want to use up his tires early and get beat at the end of the race. He raced solidly between fourth and second place during the first 100 laps of the race, but kept the leaders within striking distance. Byron was sitting third with 20 laps to go and moved up to second with 15 to go. He was able to get to race leader Garvey’s bumper with eight to go, but Garvey blocked and held off the hard-charging Byron over the closing laps. Byron took the checkered flag in the second position, less than a car length behind seasoned veteran Garvey.
“I really feel like we exceeded everyone’s expectations this weekend,” said Byron. “Pro Late Model cars are much faster than Late Model cars and everything happens so much quicker. It’s a fun challenge to come to new tracks and try to figure them out and adapt. We were quick off the truck in the first practice, fast in qualifying and ran a great race. The fans and the team were supportive and excited after the race; it was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the different tracks and races I have over the next six weeks including the All-American 400 at Nashville.”
Byron returns to Hickory Motor Speedway with JR Motorsports on October 25 for the Fall Brawl before heading to the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville on November 1.