CONCORD, N.C. – As expected, William Byron has been announced as the replacement for Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports beginning in 2018.
Byron, who is driving for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this year, will make his NASCAR Cup Series and Hendrick Motorsports debut during the 2018 Daytona 500.
It was announced Monday that Kahne would not return to Hendrick Motorsports next year.
Byron’s No. 5 Chevrolet team 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 annually. 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 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history with a NASCAR national series rookie record seven victories while driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. This year, the Charlotte, N.C., native progressed into the XFINITY Series, where he has already earned three wins at Iowa, Daytona and Indianapolis. He currently ranks second in the standings after 20 of 33 races with Hendrick Motorsports affiliate JR Motorsports.
“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 2016. He will join Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman, who was recently announced as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s replacement in the No. 88, as a member of the four-car NASCAR Cup Series operation.
“At every step, William has proven how quickly he can adapt,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “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 will sponsor both Byron and Bowman next year for a total of 15 races, increasing its presence with Hendrick Motorsports. Axalta has been a Hendrick Motorsports corporate partner since 1992 (when it was known as DuPont) 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.
“To have this opportunity with a new partner (to Hendrick Motorsports) in Liberty University and to grow what’s been an incredible long-term relationship with Axalta, it’s very special,” Hendrick said. “These are two sponsors who have already built effective programs around our sport and now see even more possibilities. It’s a big compliment to William, who has been a terrific ambassador for them both, and we look forward to a bright future together.”