TALLADEGA, Ala — William Byron, who will start the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet ninth on Sunday, spoke about the penalty he and his team have been issued following an incident in the Texas race last week.
Byron and his team were issued a 25-point penalty for what NASCAR deemed aggressive driving during a caution period at Texas, however the team is appealing the penalty. The incident involved contact between Byron’s Chevy and Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota, which resulted in Hamlin spinning out during the race. He returned to finish 10th and Byron finished seventh.
They were both running top 3 at the time of the run-in, however, and were racing each other hard for position. Byron took exception to Hamlin running him wide – resulting in Byron’s car brushing the wall. Byron retaliated by bumping the back of Hamlin’s car during a yellow flag (thrown for an unrelated incident). The bump – which Byron insists was not meant to actually spin out Hamlin – effectively ended Hamlin’s shot at the Texas trophy, according to Hamlin.
“I guess it was a little bit different than what I expected,” Byron said of the penalty. “I will let the appeal process take care of that. We accept it for this weekend and move on and look at it like any other weekend.”
Byron said the team compiled a “list of evidence” – with video angles and information, he hopes will at the very least lessen the penalty. And he noted, there was no penalty issued to Joey Logano, who ran Byron high (and into the wall) while racing for the victory during the final laps of the Spring Darlington race this year.
“My intent was never to spin him under caution,” Byron said. “I meant to go up there and bump him like I’ve seen numerous people do, even during that race. There’s a difference in intent there for sure.”
Byron called it “a little bit weird” that NASCAR issued the penalty post-race, but insisted, “We just take what we’re given. We’re glad to be on this stage, glad to be in the Playoffs still have an opportunity to win the next two weeks and we’re not really that far out. But with the severity of the penalty, that’s what we were opposed to. That’s what the appeal’s about, the severity of the penalty.”
For his part, Hamlin agreed the penalty was too late – for different reasons.
“It didn’t help my finish,” Hamlin said. “It didn’t change the fact I could have won the race and instead finished 10th so you have to account for those points too.”