Video games help propel 18-year-old William Byron to NASCAR stardom

Posted at 8:52 PM, Nov 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-12 22:52:04-05

Hey, kids: Next time your parents get on your case for spending too much time playing video games, respond with these two words: William Byron.

The 18-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina is moving quickly up the NASCAR ladder thanks to iRacing, an online video game that helped him become the champion racer he is today.

"It's kind of unique that I started that way," Byron said. "My parents were always talking about, 'Oh, you need to get out and do something, maybe do another sport or something.' I played other sports but I was always really passionate about racing, and luckily I got that opportunity to pursue my dream."

Thanks to iRacing, Byron went on to claim six victories on the Camping World Truck Series circuit, a rookie record in any NASCAR circuit.

A favorite in this year’s truck championship series, Byron led for 112 laps in the Lucas Oil 150 semifinal race at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday, only to see his historic season end when his engine blew with 10 laps to go.

But Byron has bigger and better things in front of him. He has signed a deal to move up to NASCAR's next level, the Xfinity Series, where he'll be racing for powerhouse Team Hendrick.

But if not for iRacing, Byron may not be on the verge of NASCAR stardom as he currently is. He said the game helped him successfully navigate several courses in real life, including PIR on Friday.

"I'm able to come to Phoenix and I've actually had laps here on the (simulation)," he said. "I've been to some tracks that I've won at this year."