Berlin is Byron's Toughest Late Model Challenge Yet

The Cup points leader has wins at New Smyrna, Hickory and Nashville.

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William Byron was on the original entry list for the Battle at Berlin in 2015 before his FURY Race Cars team opted for other races that summer so he had never seen the West Michigan track until Tuesday.

It was a long time coming and the current NASCAR Cup Series playoff points leader had seven years’ worth of learning to accomplish in three hours on Tuesday and largely got where he needed to be by the end of the day.

"It's really tough," Byron said. "I've watched videos, seen the ARCA races, watched Kyle (Busch) win the Rowdy 251. I’ve watched it a lot but it's way different in the car than I thought it would be. It's hard to figure out where the center of the corner is. I'm constantly turning and if I'm not in the right position, I slow way down.

"Just trying not to go too hard and let the car do the work, and figure out the track, and that’s been fun"

Byron is in the midst of a dozen or so race schedule with Donnie Wilson Motorsports that began with the World Series of Asphalt and will conclude with his return to the Snowball Derby. The Hendrick Motorsports racer won both extra distance races at New Smyrna, won an Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory and the North South Super Late Model Showdown at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

Each of those tracks were venues he had raced before.

Berlin will be a tough assignment because he has never raced at Berlin and Wilson Motorsports doesn’t have a large notebook here compared to the southern short tracks they run the most.

"This is the best field we’ve raced against and it’s the toughest track I’ve been to," Byron said. "We had a good notebook for all the tracks we’ve been to together and I’ve raced there and knew what we were getting into.

"So here, I feel like I was way off, and the car was way off after unloading too, so I spent all three hours trying to get those two elements married together."

Final practice could get rained out on Wednesday afternoon so does Byron feel ready to contend right now if they just qualify and race?

"Umm."

That's an honest assessment.

"I feel like I’m fast, but it’s hard to tell on long run speed because I don’t know what to expect of our tire fall off," Byron said. "There is so much fall off here that it’s twice the rate of Hickory. That’s the most comparable race to this but it’s still way different.

"So, I really think the local guys are the ones to look out for."

Despite all of that, Byron and Bond Suss were amongst the half dozen or so teams that mocked up before the end of the day on Tuesday. Byron went to the top of the charts and were the only ones to break into the 15 second barrier with a 15.999 lap.

The driver and car might not be married to Berlin yet, but they might be engaged.