Charlotte, N.C. (September 17, 2014) --- William Byron, 16, captured the Rookie of the Year title and finished second in the overall NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Division standings at Hickory Motor Speedway (HMS). Byron competed in his first late model season at HMS for JR Motorsports with sponsorship from Liberty University, the largest private, non-profit University in the country.
“When I started the season out with Liberty University and my JR Motorsports team, rookie of the year and second in track points would have been a tall goal,” said Byron. “Some of the best late model racers in the country compete at Hickory Motor Speedway. But I have progressed a lot over the season. I’m really pleased with how well my team has done to give me the resourced to succeed every week. We have definitely exceeded the goals we set at the start of the year.
“The support from Liberty University has been unbelievable as well. Without them I wouldn’t be able to race. I had the opportunity to take an online course at the University over the summer and it also showed me that I could continue to race without compromising my education. That’s extremely important to me.”
The key to Byron’s success was consistency over the course of the 20-race season in the No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet. Byron captured seven pole positions, one win and finished in the top three 10 times at the North Carolina short track. Byron finished ahead of several strong competitors and past champions to finish second in the overall standings, including the two-time Hickory Motor Speedway Late Model Track Champion and last year’s Limited Late Model Champion.
The only driver to finish better than Byron at Hickory in the standings was his 23-year-old JR Motorsports teammate Josh Berry. Berry, the 2013 Motor Mile Speedway Late Model Champion and part-time NASCAR Nationwide Series driver, was a mentor to the rookie Byron and the pair earned a 1-2 finish in the overall standings for NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Josh had done a lot to help get me started in late model racing,” said Byron. “His mentorship is so valuable. It helps to have Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. supporting us every week as well. If you read his twitter feed after a race you can see he really cares about this program and our success.”
Byron has nine races remaining on his 2014 schedule starting with this weekend’s late model race at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. The schedule will take him to eight different tracks in six states.