Super Late Models
Spotter Derek Kneeland Plans Ambitious Driving Schedule
May 5, 2022
It’s been six years since William Byron has raced at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and much has changed since then.
In April 2016, when he drove the LFR Chassis house chassis to a ninth-place finish in the North South Super Late Model Challenge, Byron had just begun his rookie NASCAR Truck Series campaign. He hadn’t yet won his first race yet.
The first of a rookie record setting seven wins wouldn’t come until a month later at Kansas Speedway.
For historical purposes, Byron wasn’t even considered the wunderkind prospect he would become by the end of that year. Two years before that, he drove a Daniel Hemric owned Pro Late Model in the All-American 400 to a ninth-place finish.
Now Byron returns to one of the most legendary venues in stock car competition as the Cup Series playoff points leader and the recipient of a three-year extension to remain in the iconic Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet.
He will do so with Donnie Wilson Motorsports, a team that has already guided him to victories in the Clyde Hart Memorial 100, Orange Blossom 100 at Easter Bunny 150 this spring. Byron is amongst a 30-plus car field set to compete in the 2022 North South Super Late Model Challenge.
"Yeah, I’m really excited," Byron told Racing America on Thursday. "Nashville is an awesome race track. I got a chance to go test there on Tuesday and that experience was just a little bit different than what I remember."
Straight rail Late Models are a good bit lighter than six years ago and have developed different driving habits as a result. That's not even to say anything about the difference in tire compounds as well.
"To kind of see how the race track has evolved has been really cool," Byron said. "I think it’s almost a perfect race track for Super Late Models because it’s so low in grip; there is a lot of tire fall-off, but it’s fast as well. So, you get to kind of see the horsepower of those race cars, but also the tire fall-off. I think that’s, obviously, the perfect equation for racing.
"I think it’s a cool race track. I felt good about our car and hopefully can get back to getting a win there in that car; it would be fun. I haven’t been in it in a couple of months, so it took a little bit of an adjustment time. But hopefully it’s a lot of fun on Saturday."
Byron hopes to win on Saturday but also stake an early claim as a favorite should the Cup Series ever return. The Nashville Metro Government has awarded Speedway Motorsports the lease for the facility moving forward, an agreement that would see the Cup Series return to the downtown short track, but that agreement is pending approval by the Fair Board of Commissioners and City Council.
With 11 Cup Series races to his resume with the Next Gen car, Byron thinks Cup would be perfect for a repaved Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.
"I do," Byron said. "It seems like a big, heavy stock car races well with some banking. I think some of our worst races are unfortunately the flatter tracks. They’re just so heavy that it’s hard to make much work, I guess.
"But the banked tracks, like Nashville, would be kind of a perfect race track. It’s probably half the banking of Bristol, so I think it would be perfect."