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Hendrick defends Byron for 'standing his ground' against Busch

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Hendrick defends Byron for 'standing his ground' against Busch
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Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick says William Byron had to "stand his ground" in his NASCAR Cup Series clash with Kyle Busch at Watkins Glen.

 William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Hendrick Autoguard
 William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Hendrick Autoguard
 William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Hendrick Autoguard
 Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M's Hazelnut
 Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M's Hazelnut
 Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M's Hazelnut
 Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M's Hazelnut
Chad Knees, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta, Rick Hendrick
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta, Rick Hendrick

Busch had started the race in third and ran alongside Byron for second at Turn 1 before spinning out as the pair battled. 

The two then had another coming together at the Outer Loop bend when Busch rammed Byron onto the grass, leading the Hendrick driver's crew chief Chad Knaus to take to the radio to say: "If I see that #18 [Busch] come back around again without you knocking the **** out of him, we're going to have a problem."

The continual clashes then ended when Byron hit Busch under a stage-ending caution that damaged the front end of the Hendrick Chevrolet Camaro.

Hendrick said: "I think you have to stand your ground in this sport. If you let people push you around, they're going to push you around. 

"He's running up the front, so I think this was his eighth front‑row start, and he's learning. People don't cut him any slack because he's a rookie, then he needs to let them know he'll come back."

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Hendrick admitted that the retaliation had cost Byron a strong result after the Hendrick driver placed 21st and some 10 places down on Busch.

"I think probably in hindsight he would not [have] messed with Kyle and would have had a chance to have a really good finish with a good car," added Hendrick.

Byron's crew chief Knaus joined the #24 team's roster for 2019 after 17 seasons with seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson

Knaus is steering Byron's second Cup season, with the Hendrick driver a latecomer to motorsport after early success in iRacing led to a real-world car racing switch for 2012.  

"I'd probably tell him the same thing"

When Hendrick was asked for his take on Knaus's radio message to Byron, Hendrick added: "I didn't know that until someone told me that [it happened] coming in here. 

"I think if you let guys push you around and you [need to] let them know that you're not going to let that happen.

"He got the worst end of the deal when Kyle brake-checked him and knocked the front end out of the car.

"But sometimes in the heat of the battle you want to do things, and if you thought about it a little bit more maybe you'd just settle down and go finish the race. 

"But in the heat of battle, and I didn't know Chad told him to, but if I'd had a radio I'd probably tell him the same thing."

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Watkins Glen
Author Tom Errington