William Byron’s addition gives Hendrick Motorsports even more youthful look for 2018

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Hendrick Motorsports will field its youngest team ever next season with three of its four drivers under 25 years old next season.

Hendrick Motorsports made official Wednesday what had been reported Tuesday – that 19-year-old William Byron will join the team next season. He replaces Kasey Kahne, who was released from his contract earlier this week.

Byron’s No. 5 Chevrolet will feature sponsorship from Axalta Coating Systems and Liberty University. Those sponsors will cover a majority of Byron’s Cup races annually, the team stated. Additional details of the multi-year partnerships will be announced at a later date.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Byron in a statement with the team. “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.”

Said Hendrick in a statement: “At every step, William has proven how quickly he can adapt. 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.”

Hendrick’s stable will feature 41-year-old Jimmie Johnson, 21-year-old Chase Elliott and 24-year-old Alex Bowman, who will take over Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s ride. As of now, Johnson is the only driver among those four who has won in the Cup Series.

“They’re going to lean on Jimmie Johnson to be the veteran guy to lead the company guy to teaching those guys how to race,” Kevin Harvick said Tuesday night about the seven-time champion on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show.

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