William Byron brilliantly educates NASCAR rivals on key to long Cup Series career


William Byron did his undergraduate racing education with Kyle Busch Motorsports, driving two seasons in the NASCAR Camping World Series. He earned the motorsport version of a master’s degree at JR Motorsports, winning the 2017 Xfinity Series crown.

Byron hasn’t really made his mark in the Cup Series in four seasons with Hendrick Motorsports, so the doctorate will have to wait. But he just taught his athletic colleagues a little something about MBAs.

At 23, Byron nearly secured a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series until he was 30.

William Byron moonlighted

# 24 Chevrolet driver William Byron walks the grid during the NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 16, 2021. | Sean Gardner / Getty Images

To say that NASCAR driver William Byron has a solid career is an understatement.

At 17 in 2015, he won four races and the K&N Pro Series East Championship. In his only full-time season on the circuit, he won the 2016 Truck Series title with seven wins.

This saw Byron move from the Kyle Busch organization to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Competing for JR Motorsports in 2017, he won four Xfinity Series races, finished in the top five of the other eight and won another championship of the season.

This opened the door for him to his opportunity in the NASCAR Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports, driving the # 24 Chevy that the organization handed over to Jeff Gordon from 1992 to 2015. This is where Byron can be found the weekend.

During the week and during the NASCAR offseason, however, Byron spent time with his nose buried in the books. Taking advantage of the school’s online program, Byron studied at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is a junior and is preparing for his undergraduate degree in strategic communication.

Liberty University relies on its famous student

William Byron’s relationship with Liberty University dates back to the sponsorship of his K&N Pro Series car. They continued to partner and Liberty has been the main sponsor of the No.24 Chevy 13 times in the current NASCAR Cup Series, according to Racing-Reference.com.

This relationship will continue for much of the decade. Liberty University announced a long-term extension with Hendrick Motorsports on Friday. Under the terms of the deal, Liberty will sponsor William Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet in 12 Cup Series races per season through 2026.

Aside from the Byron car serving as a 180 mph recruiting poster, Liberty gets another benefit from the relationship. Hendrick Motorsports is supporting the School of Engineering’s Formula SAE effort to advance electric car technology, and the mammoth Hendrick Automotive Group is helping to develop an academic track record in car dealership management.

“I am proud to represent an institution like Liberty University,” Byron said in a statement announcing the extension. “I had the opportunity to return to campus this past weekend and see how the school continues to grow. They inspire a lot of people my age to pursue their passions, and I look forward to continuing to represent them on and off the circuits.

William Byron brilliantly trains his NASCAR rivals

William Byron has made the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for the past three seasons, and has two race wins and 48 top-10s in 140 career starts. It is the start of a successful career, but not the guarantee of a long career.

Motorsport.com reports that Byron is under contract until the 2022 season, but that is undoubtedly about to change. Sponsorship spanning 12 races per season for five years is gold for a racing team, even with the financial means of Hendrick Motorsports, which has won more Cup Series wins than any team in history.

This means that a long-term contract extension is on the horizon for Byron.

Other drivers have enjoyed similar job security, and Michael Jordan’s start-up team is a good example of the value of sponsors. Bubba Wallace has brought several sponsors, including McDonald’s, from Richard Petty Motorsports to 23XI Racing, and Kurt Busch will carry longtime sponsor Monster Energy in 2022.

But those relationships were forged after the pilots reached the top echelon of NASCAR. In Byron’s case, he started nurturing the deal as a teenager, strengthened it by being successful at all levels, and cemented it by signing up as a student.

He may be studying strategic communication, but wise planning like this should earn Byron an MBA when he takes the stage in a few years to earn his undergraduate degree.

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