NCWTS: William Byron Talks 2016, Looks Ahead to 2017 With Hendrick Motorsports Deal

William Byron became a fixture in the Camping World Truck Series this season while racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Byron, who pilots the No. 9 Liberty University Toyota, started racing Legends Cars at the age of 15. Despite a late start, Byron ran his first full-time season in the series at the age of 18 in 2016. The young driver scored six victories throughout season and has 10 top five and 15 top 10 finishes with one race remaining.

“Never. I didn’t even expect that we would have two or three wins,” Byron told SpeedwayDigest.com if he ever expected to have six wins heading into the season finale. “So having six wins this year is great and hopefully we can cap that off in these last couple of races this year and try to tally up that win total a little bit more.”

Byron entered his first full-time season in the Camping World Truck Series with momentum after scoring the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship the year prior. Byron spoke about the transition from that series over to the Camping World Truck Series.

“The transition was difficult, but it was expected,” continued Byron. “I think that I was able to adapt in midseason and rely on my racing team to really give me the knowledge necessary to make that step forward.”

Byron finished his one and only K&N Pro Series East season with four victories, five top five and 11 top 10 finishes through 14 races. He also started on the pole four different times throughout those 14 events.

Unlike other young drivers, Byron dedicates his downtime focusing on advancing his education. The young driver attends college at Liberty University and has spent time this year as a spokesperson for his school. In the old days, many drivers wouldn’t finish high school to go race. Drivers today usually finish getting that high school diploma but elect to not attend college. Getting that college degree means a great deal to Byron.

“It means a great deal to be in college and have that on my background and grow as a college student,” Byron said. “I think it’s unique to people that I am racing that I really enjoy. Further thing is the knowledge. It’s been a good thing for me and hopefully in the future it continues and I’m able to balance the schedule.”

Things will get even more busy as Byron recently signed a development deal with Hendrick Motorsports that will begin next season. Byron will pilot one of the full-time entries over at JR Motorsports next season. Car number and other details are still in the works. The young driver says it’s amazing to receive such an opportunity as he idled Jimmie Johnson growing up.

“It’s been amazing to receive that opportunity next year,” Byron continued. “To be able to race for an organization that has a great sense of pride and for a long time I’ve been a Jimmie Johnson fan. So it’s really neat to have that connection now and hopefully next year it works out really well and in the future.”

In the Hendrick Motorsports announcement, Rick Hendrick, who is one of the most well-known motorsports team owners in the world, said “Byron is a special person and talent.” Byron, when asked about that statement, says he hopes to prove him right with the opportunity next season.

“It’s amazing. It’s just an incredible feeling to know that he’s (Rick Hendrick) is supporting me. It just makes me wanna prove him right through the future and hopefully I can do that and continue to grow my career with them in the future.”

When Byron straps into that NASCAR XFINITY Series ride next season, it won’t be the first time that he has driven for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Byron made a few starts with Earnhardt’s Late Model team as he climbed the racing ladder. Byron says racing for the team next year will bring back old memories.

“I’ve had a great relationship with them. I have raced Late Models with them a couple of years ago and got that connection going. Then, this season, I went over to Kyle Busch Motorsports to race in the Camping World Truck Series. So next year it’ll be good times coming back to where I started in Late Models and hopefully we can continue the success I had there in Late Models.”

Since next season will be the first time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Byron spoke about the learning process he’ll go through this offseason. “I’ll definitely go through a lot of learning process and try to understand what I’m gonna need to do to make sure I’m the best I can be next year. But right now, I’m just focusing on the Camping World Truck Series and I’ll get to that point once this season is finished up and we figure out what happens down the stretch here. I really haven’t thought a lot about it, but it’s gonna be a good offseason to learn.”

Byron came very close to advancing into the ‘Championship 4’ this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway after dominating the race on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. Despite starting on the pole, things went south with 10 laps remaining.

Before the incident, Byron reported that things were “running a little hot” just before the engine finally let go. The problem would end his championship hopes after placing a 27th-place finish. Byron ended up leading 112 of the 150 laps.

"We had been running hot a little bit the last run and kind of all night, but it stayed within temperature range and just started to vibrate maybe the lap before, and I thought it was the tires and didn't think it was a big deal," Byron said in a team release. "It just sputtered and had flames coming out the cowl. It just stinks for this KBM team, they've worked so hard. It just happens I guess. It was a great Liberty University Tundra tonight. Thanks to all my guys at KBM. We'll go to Homestead and try to get one more win."

Byron will play spoiler this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway as he’ll go for his seventh victory of the year.

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Brett Winningham

Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.

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