William Byron spotlights ‘different’ negotiation process with Hendrick


William Byron inked a three-year contract extension Thursday that keeps him with Hendrick Motorsports through 2025. But this year’s negotiations proved slightly different for the Charlotte, North Carolina, native.

At 24 years old, Byron is having a breakout season with two wins and four top fives in the first 11 races of the year, already marking his first multi-win season while sitting third in points. This extension also marks the second of Byron’s Cup career, previously signing a two-year extension in September 2020 that carried him through 2022.

Now with Prosport Management representing him, Byron admitted this process wasn’t the same as the last time he did this, especially since he’s won three more races since signing his last deal.

“It was definitely different,” Byron said in a Thursday teleconference. “You know, this is kind of my first deal outside of my rookie contract, and I think that it’s good to kind of understand the economic sense of the sport a little bit more as I’ve gotten older and start to understand all the moving parts and what goes into it. So yeah, I thought it was educational and fair and definitely left me excited and looking forward to the years ahead.”

A new television contract is due to begin at the beginning of the 2025 season. With that contract is an expected impact on driver salary with teams eager to get a bigger slice of the financial pie than they receive now.

Byron said he was conscious of what future deals could look like as his negotiations progressed, noting he believes the sport is “thriving.”

“For somebody like me coming into the sport, I’m 24 years old, and hopefully have a long career ahead and want to see the sport do well,” Byron said. “I want to see fans be interested in what I’m doing. And I’ve got a lot of support from friends from high school and things like that that are watching the races (and) I didn’t get those messages a few years ago. So it’s cool to see that and yeah, hopefully, we continue to, as drivers, benefit from the success of the sport.”

With multiple wins already this season, Byron and second-year crew chief Rudy Fugle are showing immediate success in the Next Gen car. Byron, the 2017 Xfinity Series champion, said contract talks with Hendrick Motorsports began around the time his No. 24 team started to find success, earning their first win of the year at Atlanta on March 20. Whether this year’s on-track success impacted the terms of the contract was unclear, Byron said, but nobody has been disappointed yet.

“Definitely seems like both sides are happy,” Byron said. “I’m happy where I am. They’re happy with the progress that I’m making. And I feel like there’s that excitement for the future of what we’re going to do together. So yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”

Byron also noted that NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon, the team’s vice chairman, has played a critical role in mentoring Byron on and off the track.

“He’s helped quite a bit,” Byron said. “I think he’s just made me comfortable in the Cup Series and made me understand what’s important. He’s really good at managing both sides of it. He’s good at managing the off-track and the on-track and knowing the importance of both, so I think that’s been what I’ve learned from him over the years and also little tidbits of information about racing, too.

“He’s been good for me, but also good for the race team and good for Rudy. He’ll come into our (No.) 24 room and he’ll talk about race tracks and what to expect and what he thinks is important. And that’s cool, because he’s won a lot of the places, so I think it’s great info.”

Byron is also one of four drivers under the age of 30 at Hendrick Motorsports. Alex Bowman (29) and Kyle Larson (29) are both signed through 2023 while Chase Elliott (26) is signed through 2027. Since the addition of Larson in 2021, the young core of drivers has seemed to work well together, producing 22 wins in 47 races (46.8%) and one championship.

“We have different experience levels from different race cars, but I think we all get along really well because we’re similar in age and we all like similar things,” Byron said. “I mean a few of us play golf, a few of us go race other things. And so we all have common interests.”

One of those interests is winning. All four have done that in 2022, but none more so than Byron.

Alpha Prime Racing’s road woes don’t keep team from competing


SONOMA, Calif. — Alpha Prime Racing owner Tommy Joe Martins laughs. He can. His Xfinity Series cars all are here at Sonoma Raceway.

At one point last week, it was not certain if his team’s cars would make it to Portland International Raceway.

“It was probably the toughest professional week I’ve had of my NASCAR career,” Martins told NBC Sports on Friday at Sonoma.

MORE: Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma

The Alpha Prime Racing team had both its trucks break down and one of its haulers have mechanical issues last week on the way to the Pacific Northwest.

“We basically sent four pieces of equipment on the road and three of them broke,” Martins said.

For a time, the car Sage Karam is driving this weekend at Sonoma was left in a hauler in Kansas City because there wasn’t room in the dually Martins sent. It had room only for the car that was needed at Portland and other equipment. Karam’s car, which was to be a backup at Portland, was left behind.

“It’s a very helpless feeling when you feel like your stuff is stuck on the side of the road,” Martins said.

He still has one truck still in St. Louis and another in Oregon. Martins estimates the mechanical issues will cost his team about $50,000 when everything is totaled.

Trouble started well before the team left its Mooresville, North Carolina, race shop for Portland.

The Xfinity Series race at Charlotte was scheduled to run May 27. Rain forced that event to be rescheduled to May 29. Martins said the team had planned to send its trucks to Portland on May 28. With the race pushed back to the 29th, the travel schedule tightened.

It got worse.

After the Xfinity race started, rain came. With the Coca-Cola 600 scheduled for 3 p.m. ET that day – after being delayed by rain from Sunday – the rest of the Xfinity race was pushed back until after the 600. That further tightened the window on Xfinity teams to make it to Portland.

The Xfinity race ended around 11:30 p.m. ET on May 29. Alpha Prime Racing’s haulers left the shop around 6 a.m. ET on May 30.

The two trucks traveled together until issues in St. Louis.

The truck hauling the Nos. 44 and 45 cars had engine issues in St. Louis. The other truck kept going until it had mechanical issues with its hauler in Kansas City. The air bags on the hauler failed.

So, Alpha Prime Racing had a truck that worked in Kansas City with a hauler that didn’t and a truck that didn’t work in St. Louis with a hauler that did.

The truck in Kansas City went back to St. Louis to attach to the hauler and take those cars and equipment to Portland. Martins then had to find something to haul the stranded equipment in Kansas City and a driver. He eventually did. A dually left North Carolina for Kansas City. Once there, what fit in the dually was taken to Portland and what didn’t, including Karam’s Sonoma car stayed behind.

Yet, more trouble was headed for Martins and his team.

The truck that had gone back from Kansas City to St. Louis to take hauler that worked then broke down about 200 miles from Portland.

“I laugh knowing that we’re on the other side of it,” Martins said Friday of all the issues his team had transporting cars and equipment across the country.

“We’ve started to make plans and corrections for it not happening again,” he said.

That hauler that was left in Kansas City? It was repaired and transported to Sonoma, arriving earlier this week.

“Our guys are troopers,” Martins said. “Both of our (truck) drivers were just awesome about the whole thing. … They went through hell week as far as driving somewhere, fly back and pick something up, drive again and now are going to have to do the same thing getting back.”

When the garage opened Friday at Sonoma, Alpha Prime Racing had all its cars.

“I don’t think we had any major issues here, so that was good,” Martins said.

The focus is back on the track. Karam was 24th on the speed chart in Friday’s practice, leading Alpha Prime Racing’s effort. Dylan Lupton was 32nd. Jeffrey Earnhardt was last among 41 cars.

After Saturday night’s race, the team heads back to North Carolina for a well-earned weekend off.

Kyle Larson leads Xfinity practice at Sonoma


SONOMA, Calif. — Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Xfinity Series practice at Sonoma Raceway.

This is the first time the series has raced at the 1.99-mile road course in Northern California. Teams got 50 minutes of practice Friday.

Larson led the way with a lap of 90.392 mph. He was more than a second faster than the rest of the field.

MORE: Xfinity practice results Sonoma

Sheldon Creed was second on the speed chart with a lap of 89.066 mph. He was followed by AJ Allmendinger (89.052 mph), Cole Custer (89.020) and Ty Gibbs (88.989).

Larson, Allmendinger and Gibbs are among seven Cup drivers are entered in the Xfinity race. Aric Almirola was seventh on the speed chart with a lap of 88.750 mph. Ross Chastain was ninth with a lap of 88.625 mph. Daniel Suarez was 16th with a lap of 88.300 mph. Ty Dillon was 33rd with a lap of 86.828 mph.

Anthony Alfredo will go to a backup car after a crash in practice. He was uninjured in the incident that damaged the right side of his car.

Qualifying is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET Saturday. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday.

Anthony Alfredo’s car after a crash in Xfinity practice Friday at Sonoma Raceway. He was uninjured. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Saturday Sonoma Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


The Xfinity Series will compete for the first time at Sonoma Raceway this weekend. This is one of eight road course events on the Xfinity schedule this season.

Seven Cup drivers are scheduled to compete in Saturday’s race, including AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, who won last year’s Cup race at this track Allmendinger has won 11 of 25 career road course starts in the Xfinity Series.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Sonoma Raceway

(All times Eastern)

START: Golden State Warrior Patrick Baldwin Jr. will give the command to start engines at 8:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:20 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. … Driver introductions begin at 7:35 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Earl Smith, team pastor for the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers, at 8 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by 9-year-old Isis Mikayle Castillo at 8:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 79 laps (156.95 miles) on the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 20. Stage 2 ends at Lap 45.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 3 p.m. Saturday

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 8 p.m. ... Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. and can be heard on goprn.com. … SiriusXN NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mostly cloudy with a high of 72 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: This is the first time the Xfinity Series has raced at Sonoma.


NASCAR Friday schedule at Sonoma Raceway


The Xfinity Series makes its first appearance Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Xfinity teams, coming off last weekend’s race at Portland International Raceway, get 50 minutes of practice Friday because Sonoma is a new venue for the series.

Seven Cup drivers, including Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez, are among those entered in the Xfinity race. Suarez won the Cup race at Sonoma last year.

Xfinity teams will qualify and race Saturday at the 1.99-mile road course.

Sonoma Raceway


Friday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 69 degrees.

Friday, June 9

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — ARCA Menards Series West
  • 1 – 10 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2 – 3 p.m. — ARCA West practice
  • 3:10 – 3:30 p.m. — ARCA West qualifying
  • 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 p.m. — ARCA West race (64 laps, 127.36 miles; live on FloRacing, will air on CNBC at 11:30 a.m. ET on June 18)