Byron taking over No. 5 Hendrick ride next season

by Tucker White On Wed, Aug. 09, 2017

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - JULY 01: William Byron, driver of the #9 AXALTA/Vorteq Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 1, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

One more silly season question was settled today with the announcement that William Byron will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in 2018, the team officially announced today.

First reported by Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal, a number of outlets broke the story before the team officially announced it today.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Byron. “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.”

Speculation had swirled for months regarding whether Byron would race another year in the XFINITY Series or jump up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after the conclusion of this season. When HMS announced on Monday that Kasey Kahne wouldn’t return to the seat of the No. 5 car next season, it added to the possibility that Byron would replace him.

His hot-commodity status makes sense, coming off a rookie season in which he took the Camping World Truck Series by storm with a record-setting seven wins, on his way to a fifth-place finish in points. He’s also running hot in the XFINITY Series this season with three wins and sits second in points.

“At every step, William has proven how quickly he can adapt,” said Rick Hendrick. “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.”

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