CONCORD, N.C. -- William Byron earned his own championship trophy last week when driver Nick Ottinger raced his way to his first iRacing championship.
Byron fielded his own team, William Byron eSports, for the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing World Championship Series. He took on Ottinger, who worked his way through the season to give Byron his first owners trophy.
“It’s just cool because Nick puts a lot of effort into it and the fact that it’s the first year of the eSports team, I’m excited that it went as well as it did,” Byron said. “Just was excited to be a part of it but definitely the cherry on top to win the championship like that.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit and racing was shut down in March, Byron took that time to focus on the SIM sport and work with Ottinger on driver techniques and testing new ideas.
“We practiced a lot of different things, Byron said. “Restarts - we practiced a lot of those, and I feel like his restarts were really good at the end of the year. I think just little things like that that we practiced during the pandemic made both of us better.”
Ottinger was in and out of the lead in the closing laps of the race and an accident forced the event into overtime. Luckily for Ottinger, earlier pit strategy allowed him to have one more fresh set of tires for the final restart.
A last-minute move around the leaders allowed Ottinger to win the championship and take home the $100,000 prize. Byron said it’s huge for his team and added he wants to build of off this title year for future success.
“Just getting the brand out there, hopefully building it a little bit and maybe we can, with the combination of Nick, continue to get two guys into the fold and the playoffs each year,” Byron said.
Byron famously got his start in NASCAR from iRacing. The 22-year-old driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE worked his way through the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in 2016 and became and Xfinity Series Champion in 2017. In 2018 he became the Cup Series Rookie of the Year and earned his first win at Daytona International Speedway on Aug. 29.
Byron said he hopes young drivers see iRacing as a viable avenue to get into the sport, even if it isn’t the most traditional way.
“I feel like people are more willing to give those guys opportunities so hopefully he can just get in a car one day and try it out,” Byron said. “That would be awesome.”