CONCORD, N.C. — William Byron was officially announced as Kasey Kahne’s replacement at Hendrick Motorsports on Wednesday morning, and will drive for the 12-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship team starting in 2018.
Byron will debut at stock car racing’s highest level in the 2018 Daytona 500 and compete for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.
The No. 5 Chevrolet 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.
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, Byron progressed into the XFINITY Series with JR Motorsports, where he has already earned three wins — Iowa, Daytona and Indianapolis — and currently ranks second in the standings after 20 of 33 races.
“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 of last year. Next season, he will join Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman as a member of the four-car team.
“At every step, William has proven how quickly he can adapt,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. “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, a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, became a sponsor of Byron’s XFINITY Series effort this season. With primary sponsorship across Byron and 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, Va., 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.
CREDIT: Hendrick Motorsports