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“Just Flawless”: Rick Hendrick Left in Awe by NASCAR’s Next Superstar’s Deserved Rise to Fame

Published 04/11/2024, 10:14 AM EDT

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When the Hendrick Motorsports team roared their engines to glory in Martinsville, their team owner was not present. Rick Hendrick was unable to attend because of a knee surgery operation and received real-time updates from Hendrick VC Jeff Gordon. He got emotional as he could not witness his team’s historic win and the brilliant driver at the helm of it.

William Byron had set his eyes on a top-five finish at the Virginia track. And then a strategic pit call allowed him to leapfrog to his 13th and Hendrick’s 305th win. Not only was the Hendrick team’s 40th anniversary done right, but Rick Hendrick and others were mesmerized by Byron’s performance.

Rick Hendrick lavishly praises his team’s star driver

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William Byron entered the world of NASCAR almost ten years ago. Before that, he honed his skills in iRacing. Byron’s first affiliation with Hendrick Motorsports was inked in 2016 when he signed up for the Truck Series. It has been a dynamic journey from there, as he carved out a trophy-studded path for himself. 

Byron won his first Cup race in Daytona in 2020. Now as he adds his 13th trophy to the cabinet, team owner Rick Hendrick is dewy-eyed about his driver’s progress. Talking to NASCAR Sirius XM, Hendrick said, “He’s just getting better and better and better. Seeing him in the car and knowing what he wants…He’s a really good drafter. He’s good in the mile and a half, won a bunch of others. He’s good on the short tracks, and he’s a really good road course racer.”

 

Byron’s short career in racing as compared to other seasoned drivers is also nothing short of extraordinary. “I look at the time he’s spent in the seat of a Cup car or an Xfinity car. He hasn’t had as many opportunities to race as a lot of the other guys had. But you just watch him in restarts, and you watch him in a draft, or in a road course…he doesn’t miss a corner or anything…He didn’t miss’em, he’s just flawless. I think he had a lot more talent than people gave him credit for. And it’s coming, it’s showing now.”

William Byron’s talents are indeed versatile, as evident this year. In his three victories this season, Byron excelled on a superspeedway, a road course, and now a paper clip short track. Seems like this young motorhead is out for glory.

Yet Byron’s stellar efforts had some equally brilliant help. The tradition that Rick Hendrick had started 40 years back aided Byron’s quest for victory.

Teamwork made all the difference

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When Rick Hendrick stated his vision to legendary crew chief Gary Nelson, it seemed like a racing utopia. He introduced something foreign to NASCAR at the time: teamwork. While drivers rivaled each other in other teams, his team set a standard: to share data, work together, and advance as a whole.

And this showed in Martinsville. Even if Byron’s team had not made the strategic pit call, Hendrick would have still salvaged the front-row spots. Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson were close behind.

“The reason all four cars are running so well right now is the crew chiefs and the drivers are working really well together,” Hendrick said in a media availability on Monday. “You’ve got Chad [Knaus] in there. And they’re sharing, and they’re attesting and doing things together, and it just makes us stronger with a unit. When you put four smart people up against one or two, they’re going to win.”

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This proves that William Byron’s incredible prowess and the Hendrick team’s unity are a match made in heaven.

Read More: After Missing Martinsville Due to Surgery, Rick Hendrick and His Wife Were Given a Special Surprise by HMS

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Written by:

Sumedha Mukherjee

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Sumedha Mukherjee is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports who is known for her in-depth track analysis as well as her lifestyle coverage of Cup drivers like Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Inspired by the Kiwi's journey so far, Sumedha has also written pieces on Shane Van Gisbergen, predicting how the Supercars Champion would do in the new and unfamiliar American setting. Pairing her research skills with her vast experience as a writer, Sumedha creates stories her readers can easily get lost in.
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Edited by:

Shreya Singh