Race Weekend Central

William Byron To Drive No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet In 2018

It’s official: teenager William Byron will move up to the Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports in 2018, completing his rise from NASCAR’s Truck Series in just two seasons.

Byron will drive the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet as Kasey Kahne’s replacement from 2018 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The 19-year-old will make the jump from XFINITY to the MENCS with the sponsorship of Axalta Coating Systems and Liberty University, his current backers in that division. The majority of his 2018 races will be covered by those two sponsors with additional details of their support to be revealed later.

Byron took a record seven victories in his debut NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season in 2016, with the North Carolinian having taken three XFINITY Series wins this year – at Iowa, Daytona and Indianapolis – to put himself second in the standings after 20 of 33 races for Hendrick affiliate JR Motorsports in the XFINITY Series. Byron has also taken one pole, seven top fives and 14 top 10s in his rookie XFINITY Series season.

Hendrick Motorsports signed Byron, who will turn 20 in November, in August 2016. Next season, he will drive alongside Chase Elliott, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s replacement Alex Bowman. Byron took the No. 5 seat 48 hours after Hendrick announced Kahne’s official release from the car.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Byron in a statement from Hendrick Motorsports on Wednesday. “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.”

Byron began his career in 2013, competing in the U.S. Legend Car Young Lions division. He turned professional in 2014 in Legends Cars and won the Charlotte Winter Heat Series U.S. Legend Car Pro championship. Later in 2014, he was signed to Earnhardt’s late model program at JR Motorsports.

“At every step, William has proven how quickly he can adapt,” said Rick Hendrick, team owner. “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.”

Kahne, who qualified for the NASCAR playoffs with a win in the Brickyard 400 will still finish out the season in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

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Bill B

Interesting that HMS hasn’t lined up a couple of Cup races this year to get him a little experience (especially since there haven’t even been 40 cars showing up at the track).


probably b/c he will be running for a championship in the Xfinity series, and Alex Bowman will be requiring the 5th car that HMS could be run (which I’m not sure if HMS can put Bowman in, that 5th car this year considering he not a rookie with 81 cup starts) if not can easily take those resource and car and put under a Chip Gassiani 3rd car.


I believe with the advent of the charter system, it ended the practice of an ownership group being able to run a 5th car on a limited schedule.


Oh look over here…. another buy-a-ride. Wonderful. A kid who has some talent, but has little to no knowledge of how to setup or work on a car, has a rich Daddy and $pon$or paying the bills gets a ride with HM$.

NA$CAR is no longer the sport I grew up watching. It is nothing more than a private rich man’s club, with people paying millions for the chance to participate. I didn’t leave NASCAR, NASCAR left me.

Good riddance.


If you just figured out major league racing was a wallet war you are either very late to the party or just like playing the victim. This isn’t a new deal. People buying rides have been going on for decades. If your one of those guys who was thwarted in moving up in a racing career because of lack of funds, you sir, are a member of a very large club. As the technology increases it will only get worse.


He has two sponsors putting him in the car, the sports rise was built on sponsors. That is what talent is supposed to do, if it not then why for the last 50 year car have a sponsor on the side of them. On track performance is what get you sponsors and continuing to preform keeps them. At no point can you say this kid has not preformed. This kid is very good at the feedback he gives his team to allow the computers to tell the team what adjustment to make to the car. That right the day of a driver working on car is over at the top level, only time you will see it if they are help beat a splitter out to get back on the track. I’m almost certain that his daddy hasn’t put money in his rides for a few years now.

You are right it not the day of the 90’s, because NASCAR chose to follow more Money out west and younger generations, but since the late 90’s it has been a “Rich Man’s private club”. Your statement should be about the other kids in the Truck series and Xfinity cars, or Alex Bowman and not William Byron.

Bill B

You’ve been fooling yourself if you didn’t realize it was all based on money even back to the early days. While Richard Petty may not have had millions to work with for a large support staff (so he had to work on his own car and drive himself to and from races), compared to most of the other teams he was “the millionaire”. It’s pretty simple, he who has the most funding wins the most races. Nothing has changed with that, it’s just a lot easier to see now.


I think Byron is ready, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some early struggles. He has won quickly in every division he has competed in. I listen to his radio Saturday at Watkins Glen. The kid is a cool customer. The car wasn’t the greatest but he just ran a smooth race and brought home a decent finish. He was calm and clear at all times on the radio. It will be interesting to see what he can do next year.


How long can he run a smooth race and bring home a decent finish before people ask why he’s in the car? How long for Sliced Bread? Suarez is in the same boat.

Fifty years ago Richard Petty said it takes five years to learn to run in Cup. I don’t think a driver has five years now.


all this cup news about him and he’s busted for infraction at the glen.

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