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William Byron had a rough weekend at Martinsville. After a lackluster qualifying session, he started 16th. His Hendrick Motorsports car never had race-winning speed, and he stayed mired in the middle of the pack, struggling to move forward. He finished 13th but still advanced to the Championship 4.

After the race, the exhausted driver visited with reporters and made a couple of surprising admissions, including how he considered quitting in the middle of the race and the scary scenario that prompted that thought to cross his mind. 

William Byron having breakout year in 2023

William Byron will one day look back on his career. This season will be viewed as the one in which he established himself as a title contender. After recording his first multi-win season in 2022, with a couple of victories at Atlanta and Martinsville, the 25-year-old has consistently proven throughout the 2023 campaign to be one of the best drivers in the field.

It started early in the year with back-to-back wins at Las Vegas and Phoenix in the third and fourth races on the schedule. He added to his win total during the regular season with additional trips to Victory Lane at Darlington, Atlanta, and Watkins Glen. 

He earned his sixth win of the season in the playoffs at Texas, which advanced him to the Round of 8. Between all those wins, the No. 24 team has remained a model of consistency, with a total of 20 top 10s, including 14 inside the top 5.  

Byron reveals scary situation at Martinsville

Byron didn’t have one of his best races in 2023 at Martinsville on Sunday. However, it was just enough to advance to next week’s Championship 4 at Phoenix. After the race, the driver pulled onto pit road, exited his car, and immediately sat down on the ground, his face red from the heat. Several minutes later, he explained to NBC’s Marty Snider what happened. 

“My helmet fan wouldn’t work,” he said. “Obviously, my face is bright red. My cool shirt, all that stuff was great, right? But when your head is just blowing like a hair dryer, it’s really tough. We train for that. You just try to find a little bit more. 

“You’re not going to pull in. I guarantee that with plus seven or plus eight, whatever. I was going to faint before I was going to get out of the race. Just really proud of the team.”

Several minutes later, when Byron visited with the rest of the media, he further elaborated on the scary situation inside the car.

“I’m really happy for my team. I can’t state that enough,” he said. “With 50, 60 to go, man, it was so blurry in the car. I just wanted to pull in, but you’re not going to do that. I was going to have a failure or do something first.”

Raises questions

Byron isn’t the first driver to experience these types of symptoms. Ryan Newman even received medical attention after the race. Other drivers were spent. It’s happened numerous times in the past after races in toasty conditions, and it’s been an ongoing issue in the Next Gen car

But hearing the details of his blurry vision and a willingness to faint before he got out of the car should raise questions. Like, what if he did faint and had an accident? Would the team and NASCAR be OK with that? 

Thankfully, that didn’t happen. But these are questions that need to be asked and answered to do whatever is possible to minimize these types of dangerous situations from happening in the future. 

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