Following his ninth-place finish in Sunday’s Can-Am 500, William Byron has successfully locked up the 2018 Rookie of the Year.
The 20-year-old beat out Richard Petty Motorsports driver, Darrell Wallace Jr for the award.
Despite the accolade though, the year has not exactly been a memorable one for Byron, who moved up to the premier level hot off dominant seasons in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series. Instead, his transition to the sport’s top-tier has almost served as coming back to earth moment for him.
Through 35 races, he has yet to score a win or a top-five but managed to grab four top-10’s despite averaging 22nd-place finish.
The latter part of the season has been especially rough, with only two top-15 finishes and six results outside the top-30 in the last 13 races. Meanwhile, all of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates were able to secure their spots in the playoffs.
Now with all that in mind some may feel that he deserves criticism for his lack of achievements. After all, it was Alex Bowman’s first full-season with HMS and, he’s seen success, and in Chase Elliott’s rookie campaign with the team, he made the postseason. So following this year, should we be concerned about Byron?
Well, he has not lit the world on fire, it is not panic time yet for the No. 24 team.
For one, he is still incredibility young and doesn’t have a lot of experience. He is only 20 and began racing in just 2013; that is just five years ago. It is too much to expect to be one of the top drivers on a weekly basis when there is still a lot for him to learn. Byron has only been to a lot of the tracks on the schedule a handful of times. It is going to be tough to compete competitively with drivers who have done this for years. The fact that he has achieved so much success in such a little time is remarkable and, just because his career in Cup has started off slow, doesn’t mean it will stay that way.
With that being said, year two for Byron will be one to keep an eye on. With a year under his belt, the No. 24 should see improvement, and if there isn’t any seen at that it will be considered a disappointment and rightfully so, after all, he drives for one of the best team in the industry. He will also have seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion Chad Knaus calling the shots, too.
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