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William Byron, driving in the Days of Thunder throwback, snags pole at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – AUGUST 30: William Byron, driver of the #24 HendrickAutoguard/CityChvrltThrwbck Chev, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on August 30, 2019 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Cole Trickle, ahem … William Byron dropped the hammer Saturday afternoon at the legendary Darlington Raceway, posting a lap of 172.487 MPH to snag his fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole of the season.

The 21-year-old Charlotte native is sporting the bright lime green and fluorescent yellow City Chevrolet colors from the 1990 film Days of Thunder and having a little fun in the alter ego in the process.

“I guess we dropped the hammer on that one,” Byron said. “It was good. Car was really good for us. Luckily we did a mock run yesterday. We had enough time at the end of practice one and I feel like that helped us propel our qualifying effort a little more. I kind of knew what the grip level was going to be like and what the balance was going to be.”

While Byron is 12th in the standings, 268 points off the pace set by Kyle Busch, he’s showed drastic improvements from his 23rd-place rookie season last year. He’s also in solid position to make his first career playoffs — 73 points ahead of the cut line with two races to go.

Byron’s position is allowed himself and team led by seven-time Cup champion at crew chief, Chad Knaus, to enjoy the Days of Thunder homage.

“It’s really fun,” Byron said. “We’re at a good point in the season where we’ve done a good job to accumulate some points and get some good numbers and help our playoff position. I think that’s allowed us to have a little more fun this weekend and not uptight and be worried about our position We still need to have a good weekend to put ourselves in position heading into Indianapolis and be clinched in the playoffs.”

Over the past 14 races, since Dover in the sprint, Byron has compiled two top fives and seven top 10s. He is still, however, searching for Cup victory No. 1 of his career. First time winners at Darlington are hard to come by, but maybe, like Cole Trickle, Byron will do the same.

“Yeah, he won at Darlington,” Byron said with a laugh. “Hopefully, we can continue that. That’d be fitting. I definitely have thought about that its a really hard racetrack to get your first win at. Guys have done it in the past. You just have to focus and try to do that myself. We have a good car.”

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