“It Hurt My Heart”: NASCAR Veteran Baffled by Fans Lacking Interest in William Byron Despite Surpassing Kyle Larson

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It’s no secret that William Byron is quickly becoming the top contender within Hendrick Motorsports. Unlike his teammate and NASCAR’s most popular driver, Chase Elliott, the #24 garage has been in top form ever since 2022. With his tally of wins also crossing that of HMS top dog Kyle Larson, it’s only a matter of time before Kyle Petty’s intuition of Byron becoming “the head of Hendrick Motorsports” comes true. However, what’s stopping the NASCAR community from catching on to what the veterans have to say?
It’s a tough love situation for William Byron from the NASCAR Community
For William Byron, the 2024 Cup Series has been a great reflection of his 2022 success story. In both seasons, the #24 garage has brought home two wins in the opening few races. While those were the only wins for Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle back in their first year together, this time around, the pair aim to redeem their 2016 Truck Series loss. With that said, Byron is already looking better than all of his HMS teammates on paper, including Kyle Larson.
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Only recently, Kevin Harvick compared Byron’s Cup Series stats over 78 races with those of Kyle Larson. What the Happy Hour podcast host revealed was that Byron and Larson were neck and neck in most departments (top 5s, top 10s, wins) but the #24 had an edge over the #5 when it came down to most laps finished on the lead lap, a great indicator of consistency. While this made veteran insider Kenny Wallace feel that his episode of the Kenny Conversation with Byron would do well with fans, that certainly wasn’t the case.
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Uploading a video titled ‘Is William Byron Boring?’, a frustrated Wallace revealed the analytics behind the #24 driver’s appearance on the show. He stated, “We do this awesome conversation on William Byron, and I mean like, hardly anybody watched it. And Charlie Marlow (Wallace’s manager) and myself we’re talking about it like, ‘what is the deal?’ Elliott Sadler got way more views. Jamie Little, long-form, we did an over an hour-long interview with Jamie Little and she got like 49,000 views.”
In comparison to William Byron’s episode, even FOX announcer Jamie Little had gained more traction. After considering how the fans had reacted to her just a few weeks ago, it isn’t a benchmark Byron would be expected to fall below. With that said Wallace was equally shocked as he shared his disappointment. He said, “But William Byron, I mean, it hardly registered. It’s like you all didn’t care. It hurt my heart! I’m like, this guy just got done winning the Daytona 500, he’s an Xfinity champion!”
While it was rather evident from Wallace’s analysis that William Byron seemed to be on the back foot when it came to his fan following, the veteran insider also went over what could be the missing link.
Kenny Wallace has the perfect solution for Byron’s ‘popularity’ problem
After taking a look at William Byron’s stats, it’s safe to say his bid as one of NASCAR’s most competent drivers isn’t farfetched. With that said, what can Byron do to also get an edge on the competition in terms of the voices cheering for him? Kenny Wallace believes the answer lies in the past. During Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart’s eras, it wasn’t just on-track action that made the driver win fans’ hearts. Some punches were also involved.
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Reflecting on the older generation, Kenny Wallace stated, “So what is the stigma with William Byron? Is he too boring? Is he not mouthy enough? Is it because there is no controversy? When you look at the greats, like Tony Stewart or Harvick or Rusty. They’re talking shit, they’re ready to fight. Is that why we like them?” For Wallace, Byron’s personality was just “too perfect.”
In any motorsport, fans tend to stray far away from those dominating the sport, rooting for the underdog instead. Now that Byron is a regular in Victory Lane, fans may fear another Jimmie Johnson era. Kenny Wallace concluded by stating, “I think he falls right underneath the legend. I think it’s another one of those Jimmie Johnson deals. Jimmie won so much that he was in your face that you had to pay attention to him…(…)…I just think there’s not enough to him. William, start fighting some people, talk some shit!”
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Despite bringing home stellar results at Daytona and COTA, can William Byron win over the stakeholders that matter the most in NASCAR?

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