|BYRON MAKES CUP DEBUT: NASCAR Xfinity Series champion William Byron has ascended the professional ranks more rapidly than any driver in recent memory. In 2018, the young phenom begins his rookie campaign in the elite NASCAR Cup Series behind the wheel of one of the most iconic cars in racing history, the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 of Hendrick Motorsports. A 20-year-old native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Byron has quickly amassed an impressive list of accomplishments – especially considering he first drove a race car just five years ago. In addition to winning the 2017 championship in the Xfinity Series, Byron has already earned 11 NASCAR national series victories and has received rookie of the year honors in the last three seasons – 2017 (Xfinity), 2016 (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), and 2015 (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East – where he also won the East championship). He will compete for rookie of the year this season, which begins with the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18.
AXALTA FLAMES RETURN: Axalta Coating Systems will make its 2018 debut as a primary sponsor of Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team during Daytona Speedweeks, marking the first time the new blue, red and yellow paint scheme – creating the familiar Axalta flames – will be featured on the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Axalta Coating Systems, a leading global manufacturer of liquid and powder coatings, is continuing its 26-year partnership with Hendrick Motorsports as a primary partner for both the Nos. 24 and 88 teams in 2018. The company sponsored Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team for 23 years beginning in November 1992 before moving to the No. 88 team in 2016. This year, Axalta will be a primary partner on the No. 24 Chevrolet for 10 races.
STUDENT OF THE SPORT: Byron is currently enrolled in online classes at Liberty University, which has supported his racing career since 2014 and is the majority sponsor of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team. It is the largest private, non-profit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia and the largest Christian university in the world. However, Liberty isn’t the only place where Byron studies. As a youngster, Byron began following NASCAR and soon became a regular on iRacing, an online racing simulator used by many professional drivers, where he developed into a student of the sport. Realizing it had become more than just a hobby, his father took Byron to visit the U.S. Legend Cars International headquarters in Harrisburg, North Carolina, in the summer of 2012 to learn about a way to begin real-world racing. Since he began racing in 2013, Byron hasn’t stopped learning – he still participates in iRacing and one of his other hobbies is racing RC cars, which is yet another way for him to gain racing experience. Continuing in that vein, Byron will watch Sunday’s Clash from the spotter’s stand to see what he can learn that will help him in the Daytona 500 the following week.
AT DAYTONA: Byron may have limited superspeedway experience, but he’s already a Daytona winner. In his championship-winning 2017 Xfinity season, the driver led 29 laps and scored a victory in the July 1 Xfinity race at Daytona International Speedway after starting third. His average finish at Daytona in the Xfinity Series is fifth. Prior to the 2017 season, Byron also raced at Daytona in the Truck Series and the ARCA Racing Series.
FOUR FOR THE TWO-FOUR: A 2018 Daytona 500 pole position for Byron would be the fourth consecutive for the No. 24 car number, tying a record held by the No. 28 of Ranier Racing. From 1979-1982, the No. 28 Ranier team won the Daytona 500 pole award with three different drivers: Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison and Benny Parsons. Baker won the race from the pole in 1980. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team won the Daytona 500 pole with Gordon in 2015 and Chase Elliott in 2016 and 2017.
VEGAS TEST: Byron and the No. 24 team participated in an organizational test with the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1. The test also marked Byron’s first-ever laps on track in a Cup car. He wasted no time getting up to speed, setting the fastest lap time in the morning session on both days.
NO. 24 LEGACY: Byron takes the wheel of the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet made famous by four-time Cup Series champion Gordon and his storied Rainbow Warriors team. Byron begins his 2018 rookie season at the same age Gordon was (20) when he made his Cup debut in 1992. From 1992 to 2015, Gordon earned four Cup championships and 93 wins in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy. Elliott drove the car most recently (2016-2017), earning Cup Series rookie of the year honors in 2016. A Cup win by Byron in the No. 24 would make him just the second driver to accomplish the feat even though the number has been used as far back as 1950.
GRUBB BRINGS VETERAN LEADERSHIP: Champion crew chief Darian Grubb returns to the top of the pit box in 2018 to work with Byron and the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team of Hendrick Motorsports. With the second-most wins (23; tied with Paul Wolfe) of any active crew chief in NASCAR, Grubb is a well-respected talent in the garage, having earned a Cup Series championship with Tony Stewart in 2011 and won races with some of the top drivers in the sport, including Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards. It was Grubb who, as the interim crew chief for Chad Knaus, led Johnson to his first Daytona 500 victory in 2006. After serving as Kasey Kahne’s crew chief for the final nine races of 2017, Hendrick Motorsports announced on Nov. 1, 2017, that the Floyd, Virginia, native would lead the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team in 2018.
JEFF GORDON #24EVER VIP EXPERIENCE: This year, Byron will be participating in the 2018 Jeff Gordon #24Ever VIP Experience, giving fans the opportunity to meet two drivers of the No. 24 Chevrolet. The experience includes a meet-and-greet, an autograph and a photo with Byron and Gordon, along with a behind-the-scenes garage tour and an exclusive gift. The experience is available at 10 races starting with Daytona and spots are extremely limited. Visit www.jeffgordonvip.com for more information or to purchase a spot.
TRACK APPEARANCES: During Daytona 500 weekend, Byron will make appearances on Saturday at the Xfinity Zone stage and Sunday at the Chevy stage with the exact times to be determined.