Hendrick Motorsports announced today that 19-year-old NASCAR XFINITY Series standout William Byron will move to the team’s No. 5 Chevrolet to compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series beginning in 2018, completing the organization’s overhauled four-car lineup.
Byron, who has 10 national series wins in less than two combined full-time seasons in the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series, will make his debut in the 2018 Daytona 500. Liberty University, which sponsors Byron’s XFINITY Series effort this year, and Axalta will serve as the team’s primary sponsors and will cover the majority of the 2018 season.
The team will announce additional details of the multiyear partnership at a later date.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Byron said in a team release. “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.”
Veteran Kasey Kahne, who won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis earlier this year, has driven the No. 5 since 2012. Hendrick Motorsports announced earlier this week that the team would not retain Kahne in 2018.
Byron joins elder statesman Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), along with fellow young stars Chase Elliott (No. 24) and Alex Bowman (No. 88) to complete Hendrick’s 2018 lineup. Bowman also is a new addition, replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will retire from full-time racing after this season.
Byron is a three-time winner in the XFINITY Series this season driving for Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports team. Rick Hendrick signed the prospect in 2016.
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Byron won seven times and finished fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last year as an 18-year old in his first full-time season of competition in NASCAR’s national series.
“At every step, William has proven how quickly he can adapt,” Hendrick said. “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.”