Record-breaking teenager William Byron will drive for 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports beginning next season. He will debut at stock car racing’s highest level in the 2018 Daytona 500 and compete for rookie of the year honors.
Byron’s No. 5 Chevrolet team will feature sponsorship from Axalta Coating Systems and Liberty University, which currently support the 19-year-old driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Beginning in 2018, the two primary sponsors will cover the majority of Byron’s Cup races annually. Additional details of the multi-year partnerships will be announced at a later date.
In 2016, Byron turned in the most successful debut season in Camping World Truck Series history with a NASCAR national series rookie record seven victories. This year, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native progressed into the Xfinity Series, where he has already earned three wins -- Iowa, Daytona and Indianapolis -- and currently ranks second in the standings after 20 of 33 races with Hendrick Motorsports affiliate JR Motorsports.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Byron, who will turn 20 on Nov. 29. “Mr. (Rick) Hendrick has built such a great team. The people at Hendrick Motorsports have dedicated their lives to giving their drivers the best chance to win every weekend. I have a responsibility to them to work hard and put everything I have into this opportunity. They need to know I’m always giving 100 percent because that’s what they do.
“When I told my parents that I wanted to drive race cars, they supported me and believed I could do it. Without them, there’s no way this would be possible. Axalta and Liberty University are awesome partners, and I’m so thankful for their faith in me. I’m going to do all I can to make my family, my sponsors and my teammates proud and represent them all in the right way.”
Hendrick Motorsports signed Byron in August 2016. Next season, he will join drivers Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman as a member of the four-car NASCAR Cup Series operation.
“At every step, William has proven how quickly he can adapt,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Some drivers have raw talent and some have a strong work ethic. William has both. It’s impressive to see a young guy who never gets rattled and instinctively knows how to communicate with his team. That level of commitment, poise and pure ability is rare at any age. I think he’s just scratching the surface.”
Axalta Coating Systems (NYSE: AXTA), a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, became a sponsor of Byron’s Xfinity Series effort this season. With primary sponsorship across teammates Byron and Alex Bowman (15 races), the company will increase its already significant presence with Hendrick Motorsports in 2018. Axalta has been a Hendrick Motorsports corporate partner since 1992 and recently opened its state-of-the-art Customer Experience Center on the team’s campus.
Liberty University began its support of Byron in 2014 when he drove late models for JR Motorsports and is now in its fourth season sponsoring the driver. Founded in 1971 and located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University is the largest private, nonprofit university in the United States, the largest university in Virginia and the largest Christian university in the world. Byron is currently a sophomore student working toward an undergraduate degree in business communications through the school’s online education program.
“To have this opportunity with a new partner (to Hendrick Motorsports) in Liberty University and to grow what’s been an incredible long-term relationship with Axalta, it’s very special,” Hendrick said. “These are two sponsors who have already built effective programs around our sport and now see even more possibilities. It’s a big compliment to William, who has been a terrific ambassador for them both, and we look forward to a bright future together.”
WILLIAM BYRON YEAR-BY-YEAR:
2017: As a rookie, has posted three wins, one pole position, seven top-five finishes and 14 top-10s through 20 of 33 races in the Xfinity Series. Recorded wins at Iowa Speedway and the iconic venues of Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Currently second in driver points, first in playoff points and leads the rookie of the year standings.
2016: Recorded the most successful rookie season in NCWTS history with seven wins (a national series rookie record), three poles, 11 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Named rookie of the year after leading 21 percent of the season’s total laps and securing the NCWTS owner championship. Started two ARCA Racing Series events, finishing second and eighth. Signed by 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports in August.
2015: Crowned NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion after posting four wins, three pole positions, five top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. In 14 events, led 740 of the season’s 1,730 total laps (43 percent). Started two K&N Pro Series West races, recording two top-five finishes. Competed in two ARCA events, earning a second-place finish in his series debut after leading 120 of 200 laps at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Won the pole at Kentucky in second ARCA start. Posted one win and three top-five finishes in three CARS Super Late Model races. Made NASCAR national series debut with a NCWTS start Nov. 13 at Phoenix. Outside of racing, earned the Boy Scouts of America rank of Eagle Scout, the highest advancement rank in scouting.
2014: Turned professional in legends cars in January and promptly won the Charlotte Winter Heat Series U.S. Legend Car Pro championship. Crowned Pro Legends champion at the Winter Nationals at Florida’s Auburndale Speedway after winning six of six races. Gained experience in full-sized stock cars across the U.S. Legend Car Pro division, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series late model division and select pro late models. Signed to compete regionally for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s late model program at JR Motorsports, competing 21 times at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway. Earned first-ever victory in a stock car on Sept. 6 at Hickory. Named the state of North Carolina’s rookie of the year in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Late Model Series. In total, competed 56 times with 11 wins, 24 pole awards, 29 top-three finishes and 37 top-five finishes.
2013: After racing exclusively online, began competing in the U.S. Legend Car Young Lions division. Raced in 69 legends car events across the United States, posting 33 wins, 59 top-five finishes and 64 top-10s en route to the U.S. Legend Car Young Lions national championship. In addition, won the 2013 Thursday Thunder Young Lions championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Young Lions all-star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.