William Byron drove the No. 24 Chevrolet to Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway on Monday night, picking up the first Daytona 500 victory of his career.

Byron avoided getting caught up in a wreck on Lap 192 that involved 18 cars and brought out the red flag. When the race restarted, he popped out to the front just ahead of Ross Chastain and then picked up the win as a crash occurred behind him on the final lap.

“It sounds really damn good,” he said when asked by FOX Sports’ Jamie Little how Daytona 500 champion sounded to him. “… Just extremely blessed and thankful for all the opportunities. We just want to keep it going. We have a lot of prove this year. And this is a good start.

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“And Daytona 500 … it’s frickin’ awesome!”

Byron is in his sixth NASCAR Cup Series season but took an unconventional path to get to the highest levels of stock car racing. While most drivers start with go-karts or racing modified vehicles early in life, Byron came up through iRacing.

“I started racing on iRacing, which is unique and very different than how other guys start racing,” Byron said, per the Hendrick Motorsports website in 2018. “I didn’t run go-karts as a kid, I didn’t really grow up in a racing family.”

He said at the time he used the simulator as a tool to sharpen his skills.

“It’s something you use to hone your skills at a higher level instead of just going on there and picking up a controller.”

He won more than 100 times as a teenager and quickly moved to Legends racing at age 15, which is considered to be late for drivers. After 33 wins, he became the Legend Car Young Lions Division champion. By 2014, he was racing Late Models for JR Motorsports and moved to the K&N Pro Series, where he won 15 times.

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Byron moved to the Truck Series in 2015 to race for Kyle Busch Motorsports and picked up a full-time ride in 2016. He finished fifth in the standings that year.

He came on strong in his Xfinity Series debut in 2017, at one point winning three out of four races. He won the drivers’ championship and finished third in the season finale. It was enough for him to move up to the Cup Series, and he hasn’t looked back.

Driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Byron put together an amazing 2023 season – winning six times. However, he would fall short in the Championship Four after losing to Ryan Blaney and finishing behind Kyle Larson. Ross Chastain won the race.

Byron’s pursuit of a NASCAR championship is off on the right foot.

He was the Rookie of the Year in the K&N Pro Series East, Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series and the Cup Series. Now, he can add the Harley J. Earl Trophy to his cabinet.

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