HOMESTEAD, Fla. – William Byron put an exclamation point on his phenomenal rookie season by winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Byron finished third in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 behind race winner Cole Custer, who won his first XFINITY Series race in the process.
Byron outlasted JR Motorsports teammates and championship contenders Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier, who finished eighth and 12th respectively. The fourth championship contender, Daniel Hemric, finished 34th, multiple laps down after battling battery issues early on in the second stage.
“I don’t think I took a breath those last 20 laps. I have never driven a car that hard,” said Byron. “This is incredible! I went to Martinsville when I was seven years old watching the 48 car win the race and dreaming of driving for Hendrick one day. I got that opportunity racing for Dale Jr. and having this group of guys behind me. I cannot thank all the people around me who have helped me get to this point.”
Byron started the race in the sixth position. He dropped as far back as 16th during the first stage battling a tight race car and also scuff tires from qualifying. After making adjustments during pit stops in the first stage break, he came on strong and finished the second stage in fifth.
The final stage was all about Byron vs. Sadler. Custer had the race in the bag, so all eyes were on the JR Motorsports teammates during the final caution-free 110 laps.
“You gotta have a good team and a good car so you can really understand what a good car is,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., team owner of JR Motorsports. “I am excited for William and his future. He drove like a veteran all year, much less tonight, he deserves a lot of credit. Dave Elenz and the guys gave him a great ride.”
Byron finished the season with four wins, 12 top fives, 22 top 10s and two poles. He becomes the second-youngest XFINITY Series champion, with his future Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, being the youngest champion (18 years, 11 months).
“What a great young man,” said Rick Hendrick. “He’s just a great person and an awesome talent. We’re really excited, we cannot wait for next year with him in the Cup Series, it is going to be great.”
The Team Penske No. 22 Ford Mustang, driven Saturday by Sam Hornish Jr., won the NASCAR XFINITY Series Owner’s Championship.