Rookie of the Year
Best finish: 6th (Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway)
Taking over the No. 24 car is a tall task, but William Byron was up to the challenge, putting in an impressive rookie season in NASCAR’s top series.
The Charlotte, North Carolina, native won the Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award to claim his fourth straight rookie title. Byron won first-year honors in the K&N Pro Series East in 2015, the Camping World Truck Series in 2016 and the Xfinity Series in 2017 – a season that also saw him take home the series’ championship.
“It’s been a lot of growing up,” he said of his rookie campaign to NASCAR.com. “I feel like I’ve learned a ton of things and it’s just been a learning process to understand the Cup Series and understand what makes me tick. So, I’ve enjoyed that part of it. I feel like going into next year, I don’t have to learn all that stuff again.”
The 21-year-old is just the second driver to win Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series rookie honors in consecutive seasons and is the third-youngest driver to earn the Cup title, behind Joey Logano and Kyle Busch.
Byron, who registered four top-10 finishes on the year, highlighted by a career-best sixth place at Pocono Raceway in July, will be back racing under the flames next season.
“(I’ll be) definitely more aggressive, I would say, and confident and not feeling like I’m being judged as much,” he said, looking ahead to 2019. “I feel like in my rookie year, there was a lot of judgement. I feel like I won’t have that as much. I feel like I’ll be able to get past that and not feel like I’m not part of the series.
“As I look towards next year, I’m excited and ready to get going.”