In the midst of his battle for a postseason berth this season, William Byron is also set to achieve a significant milestone of his racing career. By competing in the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader races at Michigan International Speedway, Byron will reach and surpass 150 starts across NASCAR’s three major division series (Truck, Xfinity and Cup Series).
A native from Charlotte, North Carolina, and a student at Liberty University, Byron’s debut within NASCAR’s three major division series came in November 2015 at Phoenix Raceway and in the No. 9 Liberty University Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Truck Series. By then, he had achieved the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series (ARCA) East championship and was named as a full-time driver for KBM for the 2016 Truck Series season. Byron’s Truck debut at Phoenix in 2015 was cut short six laps into the event following a multi-truck wreck.
Byron started the 2016 campaign with a 13th-place result at Daytona, which was followed by a 32nd-place result at Atlanta due to an engine failure and a third-place result at Martinsville Speedway. At Kansas Speedway in May, Byron benefitted from an accident on the final lap and final corner involving leaders Johnny Sauter and Ben Rhodes to achieve his first Truck Series career win in his fifth series start. Following his first victory, Byron’s season skyrocketed with sensational results that included wins at Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Pocono Raceway and at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. By then, he was a member in the postseason and deemed a title favorite. Everything, however, came to a crushing defeat at Phoenix in November when Byron’s engine blew up and the mechanical issue prevented the Charlotte native and his No. 9 Toyota team from transferring to the Championship Round with an opportunity of winning the title. Despite the misfortune, he rebounded by winning the finale at Homestead and concluding the season in fifth in the final standings. Overall, Byron concluded the season with seven victories (the most among a Truck rookie candidate), three poles, 11 top-five results, 16 top-10 results, 727 laps led and an average result of 9.2. In addition, he was named the 2016 Truck Rookie of the Year as he also recorded the owners’ title for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
In August 2016, Byron signed a multi-year contract with Hendrick Motorsports that included an opportunity for him to race in the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series season with JR Motorsports. Driving the No. 9 Liberty University/AXALTA Chevrolet Camaro led by crew chief Dave Elenz, Byron commenced his rookie Xfinity season with a ninth-place result at Daytona. Twelve races into the season, he finished in the top 10 six times. At Michigan in June, Byron was edged by Denny Hamlin by 0.012 seconds. The following race at Iowa Speedway, Byron was not to be denied as he scored his first Xfinity triumph. He responded again the following race by achieving his second series career victory at Daytona International Speedway. Three races later, Byron recorded another win of the season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway following an intense battle with Paul Menard. Through 31 of 33 Xfinity races, Byron recorded three victories, two poles, 10 top-five results and 20 top-10 results as he was also a member of the Playoffs. At Phoenix in November, Byron benefitted from a late two-tire pit stop to win and clinch his spot to the Championship Round at Homestead. During the finale at Homestead, Byron made a late pass on teammate and championship rival Elliott Sadler to finish in third place and achieve his first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship over Sadler, teammate Justin Allgaier and Daniel Hemric. In addition to achieving his first NASCAR Xfinity title and becoming the second rookie candidate to win the series title, Byron recorded the second championship for JR Motorsports.
The 2018 season provided a new start of Byron’s racing career as he graduated to the NASCAR Cup Series to pilot the iconic No. 24 AXALTA/Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 led by crew chief Darian Grubb. Byron started his rookie Cup season on a down note, finishing 23rd in the Daytona 500 and achieving one top-10 result through the first 18 races of the season. The end of July and beginning of August provided Byron’s highest moments of the season as he achieved back-to-back top-10 results at Pocono Raceway and at Watkins Glen International. Overall, Byron wrapped up his rookie Cup season with four top-10 results, 61 laps led and an average result of 22.1. He was also able to wrap up the 2018 Cup Rookie-of-the-Year title over Bubba Wallace.
In 2019, Byron was paired with seven-time championship-winning crew chief Chad Knaus, who was formerly with seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson. The Charlotte native started a new season of racing on a high note by winning his first Cup career pole position for the 61st running of the Daytona 500. With his accomplishment, Byron became the third competitor to win the pole for the 500 driving the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He led 44 laps throughout the 500 and was in position of posting a strong result until a late wreck left him in 21st place in the final running order. Byron’s highest result for the following five races was 15th at Auto Club Speedway in March. At Texas, where he made his 100th across NASCAR’s three major division series, Byron recorded his first top-10 result of the season (sixth). For the remaining 20 regular-season races, Byron achieved three top-five results, eight top-10 results and three additional poles as he made his first appearance as a Cup postseason contender. He went on to achieve four more top-10 results and another pole before concluding the season in a career-best 11th place in the standings. Though he did not win a race, Byron notched career-high stats that included five top-five results, 13 top-10 results, five poles, 233 laps led and a best average result of 14.9. His other highlight to the season was winning the first stage of the All-Star Open at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May in a photo finish over Bubba Wallace, a win that transferred Byron and the No. 24 team to the All-Star Race. He finished ninth in the main event.
This season, Byron started off with early momentum by winning the second Duel qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway and to line up in fourth place for the Daytona 500. He, however, finished last of the 40-car field following a wreck past the one-quarter mark of the race. Through the first 20 races of this season, he has achieved six top-10 results and an average result of 17.6. He is 15 points above the top-16 cutline with six regular-season races remaining until the 2020 Cup Playoffs field is determined.
In his 149 previous starts across NASCAR’s three major division series, Byron has achieved 11 wins, 10 poles, 28 top-five results, 61 top-10 results and over 1,300 laps led.
Catch Byron’s milestone start at Michigan on August 8 at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.