William Byron heads west this weekend to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) debut with Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. The 17-year-old Charlotte, N.C., native was crowned the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion and shortly afterwards signed on with KBM to compete full-time in the Truck Series in 2016 with sponsorship from Liberty University. The talented teen has found success in every series in which he has competed, so expectations are high for him.
Although Byron has only been racing since 2013, in a short time he has accumulated many trophies and championship titles. In just his first year of racing, he competed in 69 Legends races across the United States, posting 59 top-five and 64 top-10 finishes en route to the 2013 U.S. Legend Young Lions National Championship. Byron competed over several series in 2014 gaining experience in full-size stock cars: US Legend Car Pro Division, NWAAS Late Model division and select Pro Late Models. He competed 56 times and earned 24 pole awards, 11 wins, 29 top-three finishes and 37 top-five finishes over the course of the year.
This weekend at Phoenix, Byron will be racing KBM-023. This Tundra's lone start came in 2014 when owner-driver Kyle Busch drove it to a fourth-place finish at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway in the season finale. Byron and crew chief Wes Ward will also have some excellent setup notes to work with since KBM teams have won the past four Truck Series races at Phoenix. Busch claimed the first win in 2011, Brian Scott won in 2012 and current championship point leader Erik Jones took the checkered flag the past two years in 2013 and 2014.
Racing is not the only thing on Byron's plate. He is currently in his senior year at Charlotte Country Day and is taking college courses online through Liberty University Online Academy. In addition to his high school workload, he is taking Math 115 and has earned several college credits to date. Once he graduates from high school in the spring, his plan is to pursue a business degree at Liberty while advancing his racing career. More than 13,500 students attend classes on Liberty's campus in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Lynchburg, Va., and more than 95,000 students are enrolled in Liberty's online program.
The Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix will be a great head start for Byron before he kicks off the 2016 NCWTS season in Daytona next February, competing not only for Rookie of the Year honors, but hopefully a championship as well.