That sound of silence is NASCAR Nation waiting for the other shoe to drop at Hendrick Motorsports. The New York Yankees of NASCAR have announced 18-year racing phenom William Byron will race in the Xfinity Series next season for JR Motorsports. What happens after that sparks speculation and intrigue.
Racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series, Byron’s been a beast. His five victories sets a new standard for rookies in the CWTS. Outside the truck, the clean-cut kid looks cut from the same mold as Jeff Gordon. What we’re saying is William Byron won’t be on the farm long. It makes you wonder whose ride he’ll occupy.
It goes without saying that Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott aren’t going anywhere. Though it sometimes seems that Superman has taken a couple of hits of kryptonite, he’s a six-time champ with plenty of miles left under the hood. Elliott just got here.
Which brings us to mssrs. Kahne and Earnhardt. For Dale Earnhardt Jr., it’s not a question of declining talent or necessarily. Concussion issues have sidelined NASCAR’s favorite son. His situation appears worse than anything we were once aware of. The time may have come for Junebug to step away from the 88. Time will tell. His passion may come under question by some, but this observer says if he can still go, he will. The question for Junior is one of “can.”
As for Kasey Kahne, the switch to Hendrick Motorsports hasn’t been the panacea that fans had hoped for. If it’s possible to get lost in a crowd of 40, a driver was considered one of NASCAR’s promising talents, has all but disappeared. Lest we suggest that he’s washed up, let’s remember the struggles Earnhardt had and how he turned it around after floundering for years. Kahne can do it, but can he before it’s too late? Unless William Byron becomes the second coming of Casey Atwood, his time will come sooner, rather than later.
Just when we thought that Silly Season would be quiet this year, Rick Hendrick has gone and rocked the boat. From here, it looks like the signing of William Byron looks like a real coup. It will no doubt soon bring an infusion of new life to HMS and keep the tradition of excellence alive.