William Byron, who has a record five wins this season as a rookie in the Camping World Truck Series, has signed with Hendrick Motorsports and will race for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series in 2017.
Byron, 18, leads the truck points standings in the middle of his first season with Kyle Busch Motorsports, which has served as a developmental program for Joe Gibbs Racing. Driving the No. 9 Toyota, Byron has five victories through 18 races (the previous record was four wins by Kurt Busch in 2000).
“Even before I started racing, it was a dream of mine to drive for Hendrick Motorsports,” Byron said in a team release. “I have so much respect for the way Mr. Hendrick supports his people and encourages everyone to work together. This is the biggest announcement and biggest opportunity of my life, and I will do everything I can to make the most of it. I’m proud to be part of this team.”
Byron has been racing for less than five years. After getting his start online with iRacing, Byron broke into competition in the U.S. Legends Young Lion Division in 2013 at the age of 15. In 69 races, he earned 59 top fives and 64 top-10 finishes.
In 2015, Byron won the K&N Pro Series East championship after posting four wins, five top fives and 11 top 10s.
“William is a special person and a special talent,” team owner Rick Hendrick said in the release. “It’s been impressive to watch him come up through the ranks and have success at every level. What he’s already accomplished this season has been remarkable. On top of all his ability, he’s a terrific young man from a great family, and we think he has a very bright future with our organization.”
Byron will be reunited with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. His first experience in full-sized stock cars was in JRM’s late-model program in 2014-2015.
“I owe so much to Dale Jr. and everyone at JRM for taking a chance on me in 2014,” Byron said. “Looking back, I know none of this would’ve happened without that opportunity. I was there during Chase Elliott’s championship season and got to learn a lot. I know what they’re capable of, and I’m going to work really hard for them.”
The 18-year-old driver is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and grew up a fan of six-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
“(Hendrick) is just down the road in Concord and I’ve been to the shop a few times as a fan,” Byron told SiriusXm NASCAR Radio on Thursday. “I told Mr. Hendrick walking in now and being a part of it is really, really cool.”
Byron said the process of creating the deal began “a few weeks ago” with a phone call from Hendrick to let him know he wanted to meet with Byron “to put something together” and it ended with Byron singing with the team on Tuesday.
“I couldn’t be happier and it stuck right away, ” Byron said.
JR Motorsports’ current Xfinity driver lineup is comprised of Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier in full-time roles. Cole Custer, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Kenny Habul and Josh Berry each have driven the team’s No. 88 car this season.
Sadler, 41, and Allgaier, 30, are former Sprint Cup drivers in their first seasons with JR Motorsports. It was announced earlier this season that Sadler’s sponsor, OneMain Financial, would not return in 2017.