Summer 2024

'Follower of Christ' William Byron wins his 1st Daytona 500: 'I'm just extremely blessed'

William Byron led only four laps of the Daytona 500 on Monday, but they were the four that mattered most. Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet assumed the lead on lap 197, and soon thereafter, a crash behind him brought out a race-ending caution after the lead pack had begun the final lap.

Byron’s celebration in victory lane was the 11th of his Cup Series career and his first on NASCAR’s biggest stage at the Daytona 500. It was the first Daytona 500 victory for Hendrick Motorsports since 2014.

The race, typically held on a Sunday, was delayed by a day due to rain.

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“I’m just extremely blessed and thankful for all the opportunities,” Byron told FOX Sports on the track after his win. “We just want to keep it going. We have a lot to prove this year and this is a good start, obviously. Daytona 500 — it’s freaking awesome! Let’s go!”

One of the 26-year-old’s longtime sponsors is Liberty University, a large private evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia. The school’s logo features prominently on Byron’s car and racing jacket, and the school itself has featured prominently in Byron’s life.

The Charlotte native is in the process of earning his degree in business communication through Liberty’s extensive online program. More importantly, he credits his racing partnership with the school for aiding him in his spiritual growth.

“I grew up Christian with my family being Christians and taking me to church. That was a big part of my childhood,” Byron said in a July 2019 episode of the Sports Spectrum Podcast. “But I would say really when I started racing, in my second year racing, Liberty became a sponsor of mine and that’s really when I was kind of thrust into something in the spotlight of racing.

“But I realized what was really important, and so I guess that connection (with Liberty) allowed me to further that and pursue that with people that were around me at the time. That was pretty special to me and kind of kept me grounded and helped me understand what’s really important in my life.”

Now in the public eye, Byron realizes that God has brought him here ultimately for His glory.

“Getting into racing was God’s plan for me,” Byron told CNS News in 2018, “so I can spread my faith through the racing garage and with race fans.”

Byron, who describes himself as a “Follower of Christ” on Twitter, has spoken about his faith before. Despite his busy life as a full-time driver as well as a student, Byron finds moments to slow down and be with God. He is a regular at NASCAR chapels on Sunday mornings before races, and he even puts a plaque on the dashboard of his car with the words of his favorite Bible verse, Ephesians 3:20, inscribed on it. The verse reads, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

“It’s the verse I always keep in mind when I race,” Byron told Inspiration Ministries about three years ago. “It talks about the power of God and what He can do. That’s more than what we can imagine for ourselves and what we can even think of and believe for ourselves.”

Strengthened by his faith, Byron will now seek to make it two in a row next week at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Ambetter Health 400. The race is scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.

>> Do you know Christ personally? Learn how you can commit your life to Him. <<

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