March 20, 2022 : By Office of Communications & Public Engagement
In a NASCAR Cup Series race that saw a record number of lead changes, William Byron, led the one that counted in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, the first of 12 races this season with Liberty University as the primary sponsor of his No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
Byron, a junior strategic communication major studying through Liberty University’s Online Programs, was strong all day at the new-look 1.54-mile oval, leading the eight different times for 111 laps, including the final 10.
The victory was the third of Byron’s career and first of the season, which all but secures his spot in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. He has led in each of the five races this year, but hadn’t finished higher than fifth.
The 24-year-old driver was joined in the top 10 by Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott in sixth and Alex Bowman in 10th. Kyle Larson was knocked out of the race after being turned by Denny Hamlin on lap 209 of 325. Elliott led 29 laps at his home track, while Larson led one.
The freshly repaved and reconfigured track produced a thrilling race with 46 lead changes among 20 different drivers — both track records. But no driver ran up front more than Byron, who took the lead for the first time at lap 35 after starting 12th. He went on to win the first stage, finished ninth in the second and ended the day with six valuable playoff points.
“I think these fans saw one heck of a race,” Byron said. “It was certainly long from my seat. It was mentally taxing (but) I definitely enjoyed it. It was lots of drafting and lots of crazy moments, but I’m glad we could come out with a win. It’s super exciting.”
He credited his No. 24 crew for improving the car from Saturday.
“We had a pretty rough practice,” Byron said. “(The team) worked hard on it and got it handling well.”
With Byron’s performance, Hendrick Motorsports becomes just the second team in NASCAR history to produce three different winners in the first five races of a Cup Series season. Larson and Bowman have also delivered victories in 2022.
The win was the record-extending 15th at Atlanta for Hendrick Motorsports. Byron became the seventh different driver to win there for the organization, with Jeff Gordon the last to ride the No. 24 car to a checkered flag in 2011.
The next race with Liberty University serving as primary sponsor of Byron’s Chevy Camaro ZL1 is April 3 at Richmond Raceway, and then again on Easter Sunday, April 17, at Bristol Motor Speedway for its dirt track event that Liberty students can purchase tickets to for $24 online.