NASCAR champion William Byron has ascended the professional ranks of auto racing more rapidly than anyone in recent memory. Going into his sophomore season in the NASCAR Cup Series, the driver looks to build on his 2018 rookie of the year campaign with a new crew chief, an iconic No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 race car and support from Hendrick Motorsports.
A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Byron has quickly amassed an impressive list of accomplishments – especially considering he first drove a race car just six years ago. He continues to add to his already impressive racing resumé after collecting his fourth consecutive rookie of the year award. But in 2019, for the first time in his young NASCAR career, Byron will compete on the track without a yellow rookie stripe adorning his back bumper.
Hendrick Motorsports signed Byron, then 18, in August 2016 when he was a record-breaking rookie in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. By the end of his season driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, he had racked up an astounding seven victories, 3,248 laps led and three pole positions en route to rookie of the year honors. Although Byron narrowly missed winning the championship due to an engine failure, it was the most successful debut season in series history.
In 2017, Byron moved up to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Hendrick Motorsports affiliate JR Motorsports, where in addition to winning the series championship, he earned four wins, two pole positions, 12 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s and rookie of the year. His title-winning campaign included victories at Iowa, ISM Raceway and the historic venues of Daytona and Indianapolis, where he became the youngest winner of a major race in the track’s 108-year history.
As Byron competed for a championship in the Xfinity Series, Hendrick Motorsports announced his next – and biggest – career move in August 2017. Not only would he take the next step to the elite NASCAR Cup Series, but it would be in the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet made famous by four-time Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon and his storied Rainbow Warriors team.
Byron began his 2018 rookie season at the same age Gordon was (20) when he made his Cup debut in 1992. Like Gordon, Byron went on to claim the rookie of the year title, becoming only the second driver to win rookie of the year honors in each of NASCAR’s three national series in back-to-back-to-back seasons. Byron will head into 2019 looking to build off the experience he gained during his rookie campaign while leaning on his newly appointed veteran crew chief, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Chad Knaus.
As a youngster, Byron began following NASCAR and begged his father to take him to his first race at Martinsville Speedway in 2006. He soon became a regular on iRacing, an online racing simulator used by many professional drivers, and developed into a student of the sport. Realizing it had become more than just a hobby, his father took Byron to visit the U.S. Legend Cars International headquarters in Harrisburg, North Carolina, in the summer of 2012 to learn about an affordable and accessible way to begin real-world racing. They attended an event at Concord Speedway and it confirmed what Byron’s father already knew – his son, then 14, was all in.
No one could have predicted what would follow. Byron began competing in the U.S. Legend Young Lion Division in 2013, a year in which he won nearly half of the 69 legend car events he raced across the United States. All totaled, he earned 33 victories en route to the 2013 U.S. Legend Young Lions National Championship and the 2013 Thursday Thunder Young Lions championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was his first year driving race cars.
At the end of 2013, Byron moved up from the Legends Young Lion Division to the Legends Pro Division, winning races and championships in two winter series – the Winter Nationals at Auburndale Speedway and the Winter Heat Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. For 2014, he signed to compete regionally in full-size stock cars for JR Motorsports, the team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Byron acclimated quickly to late model stock cars, earning one win, seven poles and 15 top-five finishes in 30 starts for JRM. Success at Hickory Motor Speedway and Caraway Speedway earned him the North Carolina rookie of the year title in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Late Model Series.
Byron’s rapid progression continued in 2015 when he competed in 36 races across four different series – ARCA, NASCAR K&N Pro, CARS Super Late Model Tour and NASCAR Whelen All-American – and scored six wins, five poles and 19 top-five finishes in addition to the K&N Pro Series East championship and rookie of the year honors.
Outside of racing, Byron is passionate about his education, his faith and giving back to his community. He is currently enrolled in online classes at Liberty University, which has supported his racing career since 2014 and continues as one of the primary sponsors of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team. Byron, who is studying business communications, experienced college life in the fall of 2016 when he lived on campus for his first semester while competing in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
In 2015, Byron became an Eagle Scout, the highest achievement rank of the Boy Scouts of America, which he earned while racing full time and attending high school. On Dec. 5, 2017, Byron received the Good Scout Award from the Mecklenburg County Boy Scouts of America. The award celebrates members in the Charlotte community who exemplify what it means to represent and serve the Boy Scouts organization at a high level.
When he’s away from school and the racetrack, Byron’s hobbies include watching and attending sporting events, keeping up with his fitness regimen, iRacing, and racing radio-controlled cars. He is an avid fan of his hometown Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers.