Hen­drick re­plac­ing Kahne with By­ron

Driver, 19, owns three wins in first Xfin­ity sea­son.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

A racing fan who grew up in North Carolina, Wil­liam By­ron re­mem­bers peer­ing into win­dows at Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports.

He saw cars built for Jeff Gor­don, Jim­mie John­son and Dale Earn­hardt Jr., NAS­CAR’s big­gest stars dur­ing By­ron’s 19 years.

Soon, he will be on the op­po­site side of the glass.

Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports an­nounced Wed­nes­day that By­ron will re­place Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Chevro­let be­gin­ning in 2018, giv­ing the teenager a top-tier Cup se­ries ride for one of NAS­CAR’s most ac­com­plished teams. By­ron is sched­uled to make his Cup de­but at Day­tona in Fe­bru­ary.

“It’s pretty cool to be in the other side of the pic­ture,” By­ron said.

By­ron, who will turn 20 in Novem­ber, is in his first sea­son in the sec­ond-tier Xfin­ity se­ries. He has three wins, in­clud­ing ones at Day­tona and In­di­anapo­lis, and cur­rently ranks sec­ond in points while driv­ing for Hen­drick-al­lied JR Mo­tor­sports. He also won seven times — a record for a rookie — in the Truck Se­ries in 2016.

“You can’t teach speed and you can’t train tal­ent,” Hen­drick said. “And he has all those other qual­i­ties: Smart, ded­i­cated, cul­ture, work ethic. He’s got the whole pack­age.”

By­ron will join seven-time cham­pion John­son, Chase El­liott and Alex Bow­man in Hen­drick’s four-car Cup lineup next sea­son. In­stead of the star-stud­ded group that fea­tured Gor­don, John­son and Earn­hardt a few years ago, the team will have three driv­ers un­der the age of 25 and John­son, who will turn 42 next month.

“I don’t re­ally have much of a con­cern,” said Hen­drick, adding that John­son will be a men­tor while Gor­don and Earn­hardt will still have roles with the or­ga­ni­za­tion. “So they’ve got a lot of coaches. But the main thing is just not putting too much pres­sure on them and let­ting them go out and learn.

“If Wil­liam con­tin­ues to do what he’s done in ev­ery se­ries he’s been in, he’ll adapt fine and he will learn. You might as well let him learn in what he’s go­ing to be driv­ing for years to come.”

Kahne and Hen­drick agreed to part ways Mon­day, just weeks af­ter Kahne earned a play­off spot by win­ning the Brick­yard 400. Hen­drick said his for­mer driver re­mains un­der con­tract for an­other year and likely will land at an “al­liance” pro­gram next sea­son.

In­di­ans: All-Star out­fielder Michael Brant­ley (sprained right an­kle) was put on the 10-day dis­abled list. Brant­ley, 30, is bat­ting .299 with nine homers and 52 RBIs.

Braves: Rookie short­stop Jo­han Ca­margo was placed on the 10-day DL af­ter suf­fer­ing a bone bruise in his knee while jog­ging onto the field be­fore Tues­day night’s game. Rookie short­stop Dansby Swan­son was re­called from Triple-A Gwin­nett.

Astros: All-Star out­fielder Ge­orge Springer was ac­ti­vated from the 10-day DL. Springer, bat­ting .310 with 27 home runs and 66 RBIs, had been side­lined since July 24 with a left quad in­jury.

Roy­als: Three-time Al­lS­tar Alex Gor­don was benched Tues­day. Gor­don has strug­gled in the sec­ond year of a $72 mil­lion, fouryear con­tract, hit­ting just .197 with five homers and 34 RBIs in 100 games.

Rangers: Rookie in­fielder Tyler Smith was re­called from Triple-A Round Rock and right-han­der Nick Martinez was sent down. Smith, 26, was claimed on waivers from Seat­tle on July 30.

Mariners: Nel­son Cruz has 22 RBIs in 13 games against the A’s this sea­son — a Seat­tle record against Oak­land.

Ath­let­ics: Oak­land has gone a fran­chise-record 154 con­sec­u­tive games with­out a pitcher throw­ing a com­plete game. The last pitcher to go the dis­tance for Oak­land was Kendall Grave­man on Aug. 19, 2016.

Mar­lins: A group led by for­mer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Quogue Cap­i­tal in­vest­ment fund founder Wayne Roth­baum re­port­edly has halted its bid to buy the team.

Rock­ies: Closer Greg Hol­land leads the ma­jors with 34 saves but has blown his last two chances, al­low­ing six runs in 1⅔ in­nings. Tyler Chat­wood threw a per­fect 12th in­ning Wed­nes­day for his sec­ond big league save.

Twins: Max Ke­pler and Ed­die Rosario each home­red twice in Tues­day’s win. The last time the Twins had mul­ti­ple play­ers hit mul­ti­ple homers in one game was Aug. 3, 2011, when Del­mon Young and Michael Cud­dyer each home­red twice.

Note­wor­thy: Joe West, the ma­jors’ se­nior umpire, was sus­pended for three days with­out pay for com­ments he made about Rangers third base­man Adrian Bel­tre.

Wil­liam By­ron (left) will take Kasey Kahne’s spot in Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports’ No. 5 Chevy next sea­son.

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