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Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron and the No. 24 car will be back with their long-term sponsors, Liberty University, for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, who will also be supporting him for a further 11 races. However, Liberty University is not among the fan-favorite sponsors in the NASCAR community. Especially after they were embroiled in a scandal that became national headlines back in 2021.

Liberty University and Byron’s relationship has been going strong for a decade. Liberty began its support of Byron in 2014 when he drove late-model stock cars and has been a 12-race primary sponsor since his 2018 Cup Series Rookie of the Year season with Hendrick Motorsports. And continues to carry primary sponsorship for him in 12 Cup races annually through 2026, as said by Jerry Prevo, president of Liberty University, “We are honored to partner with and support Hendrick Motorsports, We feel this partnership will benefit our students at Liberty University in many ways.”

Byron will have a special patriotic scheme for the marquee, paying homage to Major Tobin Lewis of the United States Marines on the eve of the Memorial Day event by NASCAR. Hendrick Motorsports took to their social media accounts online and shared the visuals of the race car. “Check out the special colors @WilliamByron and @LibertyU will bring to the Coca-Cola 600,” they posted via X.

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But Liberty have garnered controversy over the sex scandal and its subsequent handling of the allegations. A report by federal investigators stated that “Victims of the sexual assault felt dissuaded by the Liberty administration’s reputation for punishing sexual assault survivors rather than helping them,” according to USA Today.

The initial reports suggested that allegations of violence could be traced to the management level, including former President Jerry Farewell Jr. Since then, Liberty has been under the scanner of the NASCAR community.

Interestingly, Byron has been associated with the university since earning his degree, majoring in business communication. Every time the HMS driver is back in arms with his sponsors, fans often treat the partnership with hostility. Similar scenes unfolded as fans bashed the new paint scheme online.

Fans react to William Byron’s special paint scheme for the Charlotte race

In addition to raising awareness of Liberty University’s educational opportunities, the sponsorship has touched on a variety of student programs. Examples include Hendrick Motorsports supporting the School of Engineering’s Formula SAE effort, which focuses on electric car technology, and Hendrick Automotive Group helping develop a degree specialization in automotive dealership management.

Hendrick Motorsports might have the most loyal fan base out of all the NASCAR teams, but many of them had reservations about supporting the team. Sharing their frustration, a fan wrote, “I stopped being an HMS fan after the LU partnership and the Larson thing”. 

Perhaps some NASCAR community members still haven’t forgotten when Larson got into trouble for using a racial slur, back in 2020, during an iRacing event. The racer was indefinitely suspended by his then team, Chip Ganassi Racing and NASCAR, and later went on to join the ranks of HMS.

Having said that, some loyal William Byron fans have stuck by the driver despite the backlash but still don’t appreciate seeing Liberty as his primary sponsor. “im a Byron fan but the Liberty schemes are always my least favorite of his, put the Axalta back on”.

Sharing a prediction about the viewer’s reaction to seeing the No. 24 Liberty during the race, a fan shared, “this means that this week’s live thread will just be full of “f**k Liberty” posts when the 24 in on the screen 😆”.

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Despite the paint scheme coming out really well, fans argued that they would still appreciate the Axalta Independence Flames scheme over the Liberty one. “The Flames of Independence Axalta scheme will always be one my fav schemes for the #24”.

 

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In 2021 when the Liberty University got embroiled in the sex scandal some race fans called on Hendrick to ends its relationship with Liberty. But Hendrick showed faith in Liberty University and said, “They’re great people up there. They’ll get it worked out. That’s a situation that’s unfortunate. But they’ll get it resolved and move on.”

Taking a jibe at Liberty University and their norms and conduct, an angry fan replied, “F Liberty and their cult”. Considering that Byron has been long associated with Liberty University as his primary sponsor, it is hard to see him discontinue this collaboration despite the fan backlash.