— Adam Stern (@A_S12) August 7, 2017
William Byron will continue his meteoric rise in NASCAR in 2018. The 19 year old Xfinity Series points leader will take over the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet from the departing Kasey Kahne. An official announcement is expected this week but multiple sources have confirmed to everyone that this is happening.
At 19 years old Byron has had more success in his year and a half NASCAR career than some have in a decade plus career. As a Camping World Truck Series rookie in 2016 he won 7 races, a record for a rookie but fell short of the championship thanks to a blown motor in Phoenix. Hendrick Motorsports lured him away from Toyota for the 2017 season to drive the #9 JR Motorsports car. Byron is the points leader and has won 3 of the last 7 races which has only skyrocketed his stock.
Is He Ready?
There will be a lot of questions if Byron is ready for a Cup ride. Only 5 years ago did Byron first get in a race car, now he’s going to be a Cup driver at the age of 19. NASCAR has witnessed kids get Cup rides in the past, more often than not they flame out. Joey Logano was the latest young kid to get a Cup ride and without a career resurrection at Penske he was destined for Casey Atwood’s fate. A name that was considered a can’t miss only to burn out and become a NASCAR trivia answer.
Hendrick Motorsports will have undergone a massive transition when the Daytona 500 starts next season. Jimmie Johnson, 41, Chase Elliott, 21, Alex Bowman, 24, and now William Byron, 19, make up the HMS lineup. This will give the team an average age of 26.25, the youngest among the elite NASCAR teams. Jimmie Johnson will be the only driver from the 2015 HMS driver lineup, times are a changing as they say. Essentially this is a baseball team rebuilding with one veteran on the roster to lead the children, or every A’s team in my life time.
Byron Appears To Be The Real Deal
Everything William Byron has raced he has won in. In 2015 Byron won the K&N East Series championship driving for Justin Mark’s and Harry Scott’s team. He graduated from there to the truck series with Kyle Busch Motorsports where he should have won the championship. Now with JR Motorsports he continues his winning ways. Some guys have an innate ability to put themselves in contention for a win.
Byron has a luck factor about him that we’ve only really seen since Jimmie Johnson. He finds himself in the right position at the right time and has the skills to close the deal. Listen, the kid can drive a race car, it isn’t all equipment. Like Johnson you have to put yourself in contention to win, Byron is doing that and closing the deal. There are a number of guys that don’t have that skill.
Not many people have found success in the Hendrick Motorsports #5 car. Terry Labonte won the 1996 Winston Cup Championship in the car and recorded 12 wins. Kyle Busch was only able to record 4 wins, Mark Martin got 5 in one year and Casey Mears with one. Success in the 5 is no guarantee but Byron has the assets to make that car his. Or until Jimmie Johnson retires and he takes over the #48.
Ps. Willy B still lives at his parents house, making him the only Cup driver to still do that.
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