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William Byron to drive No. 5 Cup car next season for Hendrick Motorsports (video)

William Byron will replace Kasey Kahne at Hendrick Motorsports next season and is up to the challenge of racing in the Cup Series.

William Byron will drive the No. 5 Cup car next year for Hendrick Motorsports, according to sources and multiple reports.

An announcement is expected in the coming days.

Sports Business Journal first reported that the 19-year-old Byron was expected to be announced as the team’s new driver, moving up from his Xfinity Series ride at JR Motorsports. SB Nation and also followed with similar reports.

Hendrick Motorsports announced Monday that it had released Kasey Kahne from the final year of his contract, creating the opening with the No. 5 Chevrolet for next season. The organization stated it would announce plans for its four-car operation at a later date.

Byron’s success has fueled speculation he could replace Kahne. Byron has won three of the last seven Xfintiy races, scoring victories at Iowa, Daytona and Indianapolis.

Byron won the 2015 K&N Pro Series East title. He won seven races last year in the Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Byron signed a multi-year contract with Hendrick Motorsports on Aug. 18, 2016.

Crew chief Dave Elenz sought to explain what has led to Byron’s meteoric rise after Byron won the Xfinity race at Daytona last month.

“He’s just special,’’ Elenz said. ”I don’t know how to say anything other than that. He gets it done under the biggest moments. He never cracks under any sort of pressure. The more difficult situation you put him in, the better he does. That’s just a special individual. I don’t think we have a lot of them in the sport. Thankful to work with him.’’

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