Driving a car sponsored by his school, Liberty University student William Byron claimed victory Sunday at the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 in Atlanta. Byron, 24, drives the No. 24 car, emblazoned with the word “Liberty.” The win was the third for the junior, who’s enrolled in Liberty’s online program and studying strategic communication.
It also marks another high-profile sports accomplishment for the university. Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, a top NFL draft prospect, continues to impress football scouts.
William Byron: ‘Crazy’ Race Was Exciting but Exhausting
Sunday’s race at the newly remodeled Atlanta Motor Speedway was a nail-biter, with 46 lead changes, plus collisions that involved 28 cars. On the final lap, a crash took place just behind William Byron’s vehicle.
“Pretty wild,” the driver said afterward. “I’m out of breath. It was crazy.” Byron praised his crew for making several last-minute adjustments to the Liberty-sponsored car. Although the race was “mentally taxing,” he said it was “super exciting” to get the checkered flag. Rick Fugle, crew chief for Byron’s car, said, “It’s tough to be the leader. We just had a lot of things go right for us.”
Byron has indicated he’s proud to represent “an institution like Liberty,” an evangelical Christian school in Lynchburg, Va. “They inspire a lot of people my age to pursue their passions,” he said last fall, “and I look forward to continuing to represent them on and off the racetrack.” Byron, named Sunoco Rookie of the Year in 2018, races next on April 3 and again on April 17, Easter Sunday.
Liberty has supported Byron’s racing efforts since 2014. Last year, the school entered a five-year sponsorship agreement with Hendrick Motorsports. The deal secures Liberty’s role as primary sponsor in 12 NASCAR Cup races every year through 2026.
University president Jerry Prevo says the school is “honored to partner with and support Hendrick Motorsports,” adding that “the partnership will benefit our students…in many ways.”
Jerry Falwell Jr. Celebrates NASCAR Victory, Liberty Success
On Twitter Sunday, former Liberty president Jerry Falwell Jr. congratulated Byron and the Hendrick team. “Many thought it was a long shot when I @LibertyU decided to sponsor @WilliamByron as a teenager in @NASCAR but he soon partnered with @TeamHendrick and the rest is history!” he wrote. “The big risk is bearing fruit beyond belief now.”
A sex scandal that led to Falwell’s resignation from Liberty in 2020 involved a racy photo taken aboard a boat owned by Hendrick Motorsports founder Rick Hendrick (who wasn’t present at the time). Subsequent allegations about Liberty mishandling other sex abuse claims led some people to question Hendrick’s relationship with Liberty.