2018 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: With his top-10 performance at ISM Raceway last Sunday, William Byron clinched the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year title. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award will be presented to Byron at the Myers Brothers awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Nov. 28, 2018 – the day before his 21st birthday. This is his fourth rookie of the year title in as many years (2017 – NASCAR Xfinity Series, 2016 – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, 2015 – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East). He joins Jeff Gordon (1993), Kyle Busch (2005) and Chase Elliott (2016) as the fourth Hendrick Motorsports driver to earn a rookie title. Byron is only the second driver – joining Erik Jones – to win all three NASCAR national series rookie of the year titles in consecutive years. He is also the third-youngest driver to earn the title, behind Joey Logano and Busch. With just one race remaining in the 2018 season, the 20-year-old has racked up four top-10 finishes and led 61 laps through 35 points races. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native will be paired up with seven-time champion crew chief Chad Knaus for the 2019 season, which will start with a test session in Fontana, California, in January.
HOMESTEAD PEDIGREE: Byron has a stout – albeit short – résumé at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In the Xfinity Series in 2017, he started sixth and finished third at the 1.5-mile track, securing the series championship in the process. In 2016, he started on the pole and won the Truck Series race, leading 31 laps.
GRUBB VICTORIES: No. 24 team crew chief Darian Grubb has scored two wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway, one of which came in November 2011 with Tony Stewart to cap off their championship season and the other was in 2013 with Denny Hamlin. This weekend will mark Grubb’s last race as crew chief for Byron before he assumes the role of technical director in 2019. While he’ll still travel to the racetrack each week, the promotion grants him an elevated role of overseeing the technical development of all four Hendrick Motorsports teams. Six recent crew chief-driver pairings have won in their last race together, including Grubb and Stewart in 2011, so that could bode well for Grubb and Byron this weekend.
HERTZ CLOSES OUT THE SEASON: The yellow No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 returns to the track this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale. As announced in May, the Hertz Corporation, one of the world’s largest vehicle rental companies, joined Hendrick Motorsports as a primary sponsor of Byron and his iconic No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team beginning in 2018. As part of the two-year agreement, Hertz will be primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in four points-paying Cup Series races in both 2018 and 2019 and an associate-level partner in all other events.
VISITING HERTZ: As part of Hertz’s 100-year anniversary celebration, Byron will make a visit to the company’s headquarters in Estero, Florida, on Thursday, Nov. 15, to spend time with Hertz employees. Hertz is also extending that celebration to its customers, giving them a chance to win big with a sweepstakes featuring a grand prize of a Hertz 100th Anniversary Edition Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and weekly prizes of $250 vouchers to use at Hertz+. There are multiple ways to enter the sweepstakes, including: rent and complete any car rental from Hertz during the sweepstakes period and receive one entry per rental; be a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards member to automatically receive 2 entries per rental during the sweepstakes period; or book and complete any activity on Hertz’ new experience platform, Hertz+, and automatically receive 2 entries into the sweepstakes. For more information, visit http://www.hertz.com/hertzplussweeps. Offer ends on Dec. 14, 2018.
William Byron on racing at Homestead in an Xfinity car versus Cup car:
“I think the Cup car will be different in some ways, but I think the same characteristics and things apply. Running the fence will be similar there in the Cup car – I’m sure you’re going to hit it at some point in the race. You have to try to make sure you can run up there at the top and be competitive. It’s the last race of the year, so we’ll try to finish on a good note. Overall, it was fun being there last year – it was really exciting and just a cool feeling to win the championship, so it will be cool to go back there and remember some of those things.”