K&N Pro Series East Title Is A Team Win For Young Driver
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – William Byron had the dream rookie season.
The 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion scored four wins, five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes and led a total of 740 laps, the most of any competitor in the series’ this season.
The No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet team was compromised of rookies vying to prove themselves. Aside from Byron, his crew chief Kevin Bellicourt and car owner Justin Marks, were newcomers to their roles.
So what made this rookie team so successful? In the words of the champion: Communication.
“It was definitely the key to our success this year,” said Byron. “And not with just with the No. 9 team but with the other four HScott teams as well.
“Our team set goals each race and stayed focused and positive throughout the race day. We didn’t get conservative either. And I think all those things combined won us the championship,” the 17-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, said.
A crown that first-time championship owner, Marks, gives sole credit to the team.
“It feels great to win,” said Marks. “But all the praise and recognition goes to the team and the guys in the shop. Kevin worked so hard this year as did William and the rest of the team. I’m honored to be associated with such company.”
It’s this group of people that kept Byron motivated and chasing the championship through the highs and lows of the 14 race schedule.
“My entire team kept me going this season and inspiring me,” said Byron. “After a bad race we never got negative, we’d just go into the next race with more to prove. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have the title.”
Harry Scott Jr., co-owner of HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks, echoes the same sentiments, but says Byron himself played a huge factor in winning the elite title.
“When I met William he didn’t have the extensive background that most have,” said Scott. “He had raced with JR Motorsports in their late model program and that was about it. But upon researching and talking to him, I learned he was the whole package and the perfect fit for our program.
“William has the talent, the mindset, and the drive to be a great driver in any series. I strongly believe he will go far in the sport.”
Byron’s sponsor, Liberty University, who has been supporting William since March 2014, also played a large part in his success.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Liberty University,” Bryon said. “They’re an amazing sponsor and I was so happy to have them aboard for their second year. I can’t think of a better way to thank them then with this championship.”
The 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year got a late and unique start to the sport. He began his career about three years ago competing on the popular gaming platform, iRacing.
“I would go on and race anyone who would want race against me,” Byron said.
While some may not find iRacing the best way to gain experience and begin their racing careers, the NASCAR Next driver sees things differently.
“It did help me,” said Byron. “I think it helped me progress faster, since I was able to learn tracks and figure out what I had to do before I got there. It especially helped this past year. In the K&N Pro Series we don’t go to the same tracks twice, with the exception of Iowa, so it helped me learn the tracks and figure out what I needed to do to have success.”
In 2013, he transitioned to Legends where he won the 2013 U.S. Legend Cars National Champion title, along with many more accolades. In January 2014 he made the next step in his career and signed with JR Motorsports to compete in their late model program and was crowned the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Rookie of the Year at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway as well has finishing second in the track’s final standings.
Up next for Bryon is competing for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“I’m really excited,” said Byron. “The K&N Pro Series has definitely helped me develop and grow for this next step. It’s great to have a series in between where you can develop and grow, and I feel like I did that this year. Going to the bigger tracks, like Bristol and Dover, helped prepare me for next year. I’ll know the tracks and what it takes to win there.”
William Byron piloted his No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet to four victories this season. Getty Images for NASCAR