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William Byron: ‘Crazy that everything started on a video game’

Joey Logano, who also started the Cup series as a young driver, says it'll be helpful for William Byron to have young teammates like Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman to take pressure off him.

There’s a helpful rule when it comes to viewing YouTube videos and preserving your sanity: Never read the comments. Nothing good can come from it.

There are exceptions to this rule.

A comment beneath a video posted six years ago is now a window into the story of the newest Cup driver at Hendrick Motorsports: William Byron.

Wednesday morning, minutes after it became official that the 19-year-old Bryon would succeed Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Chevrolet, Landon Cassill posted a revealing screenshot on Twitter.

It’s from a qualifying event Cassill hosted on iRacing, the racing simulator that is popular among many of today’s young drivers.

The top comment is from Byron.

While many drivers found their way into NASCAR via short-track racing or dirt racing, Byron’s first taste of competition came on the simulator. He’s only be racing in real life since the summer of 2012 in Legends cars.

During a teleconference Wednesday morning, Byron said he “didn’t even remember” posting the comment.

“That’s pretty cool to kind of see how far it’s come and see the support there,” Byron said. “I think I was asking how to go faster, so that’s usually what we ask about as race car drivers. It’s really neat. iRacing was the platform for me that I was able to start racing in and understand the cars and understand all the driving aspects. I think it’s kind of crazy that everything started on a video game, but I think it’s something that I really would promote to young kids coming up is to get involved. If you can’t get in a real race car, to get on iRacing and you can do it and you don’t have to, I guess, have all the contacts and everything to get in a real race car.”

Roush Fenway Racing development driver Ty Majeski, who made his Xfinity Series debut earlier this year, is the winningest driver in iRacing history and is sponsored by the company.

Byron, who has three Xfinity wins this season with JR Motorsports and was the Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year last season after winning seven races, has encountered other NASCAR drivers on the simulator often.

“There was one race with Travis Pastrana, that was pretty cool,” Byron said of the action sports star and former Xfinity driver. “He was racing in the Xfinity Series and he was just trying to actually learn, and I was kind of a fly on the wall and just racing against him and everything. Other than that I just raced against the community on there. You’d be surprised, there’s some really good race car drivers on there. Me and Kyle Larson were racing a few months back, so you never know who you’re going to see on there.”

You also never know when you’ll be racing a future face of the sport.

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