May 18, 2023 : By Office of Communications & Public Engagement
May is Military Appreciation Month, and for the seventh year in a row NASCAR is honoring United States Armed Forces heroes and their families at the 600 Miles of Remembrance on May 28.
At that race, 25-year-old driver William Byron, who is pursuing his B.S. in Strategic Communication through Liberty University Online Programs, will race in tribute to U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Dayton at his hometown track of Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Dayton’s name will be emblazoned on the windshield of Byron’s No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which will feature a patriotic paint scheme that was unveiled on Thursday.
Designed by Cher Priestley from Liberty’s Marketing Department, the paint scheme incorporates blue and gray digital camouflage down the sides of the vehicle.
Dayton, who died at age 42, was serving with the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve and was assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODGRU) Two, based in Virginia Beach. He had served in the U.S. Navy since 1993 and received 19 awards, including the Bronze Star. On Nov. 24, 2016, Thanksgiving Day, Dayton was the first American to be killed that year in the fight against ISIS in Syria from wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device blast in the northern part of that country.
His wife, Kristin, is currently pursuing her MSN online through Liberty’s School of Nursing while raising their daughter, Hailey, and son, Cole.
Byron is coming off his third win of the season in the NASCAR Cup Series — a season high for Byron at the top level after Sunday’s race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. He currently sits in fifth place in the season’s point standings and first overall with 596 laps led. His three wins are the most of any driver this season, helping Byron to clinch his fifth consecutive Cup Series playoff appearance in the process.
Byron is in the second season of a five-year partnership extension with Liberty University as a primary sponsor for 12 races, including this Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway.
This will also mark the sixth year in a row that Byron’s No. 24 Chevy will feature the name of a United States service member who died in defense of their country. In last year’s 600 Miles of Remembrance, Byron raced in memory of U.S Army Sgt. 1st Class Ronald “Aaron” Grider, after driving in honor of former U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff in 2021. Both were students in Liberty’s online programs.
In 2020, Byron paid tribute to former online student U.S. Army Sgt. Robert J. Billings and World War II veteran and longtime Liberty administrator George Rogers. In the 2019 race, Byron honored U.S. Air Force Captain Mark Weber, who also studied through Liberty’s online programs. In 2018, his rookie year in the NASCAR Cup Series, Byron paid tribute to two former Liberty faculty members and recipients of the George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award: U.S. Army Maj. Mike Donahue, a former assistant professor of military science for Liberty’s Army ROTC program, and Ret. Air Force Lt. Col. Charlie Davidson, who had a decorated 20-year career as a military chaplain before becoming director of Liberty’s Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program.