The question that’s plaguing NASCAR fans at this point is the decision to replace a winning driver with a teenager that has yet to compete in the major league Cup Series – especially since the driver they let go just won the Brickyard 400 several weeks ago.
Hendrick Motorsports (HMS), the team Dale Earnhardt Jr. is racing with in his final season, recently decided to let go of Kasey Kahne, a full year before his contract was set to expire. He had a couple of slow years with no wins, but that’s not necessarily uncommon for some drivers. The shocking factor is that he took home a win for HMS at the Brickyard 400 in late July 2017. Either way, the team decided it wasn’t the best choice to keep him around, and now they’re hedging their bets on a fresh youngster.
19-year-old William Byron has definitely shown his own potential in the Xfinity Series, racing for JR Motorsports (a joint venture between Rick Hendrick and Dale Jr.). Many industry experts have anticipated him replacing Kahne, but he’s only been in that series for one year. Some outlets describe his stunning successes on the track as a skyrocketing rise to fame, but it still remains to be seen how he will handle the pressure and competition of being placed in NASCAR’s biggest league.
Teams have made gambles like this before – and they’ve even paid off, but with a such a fresh driver in the series it isn’t always a sure thing. That goes for replacing someone with a more tenured driver, too. Hendrick Motorsports will be replacing Dale Jr. with Alex Bowman for his first full season in the Cup Series, but Bowman has demonstrated his skill on the track several times as a temp for Dale Jr. when he was sidelined with a concussion last year.
Do you think that Hendrick Motorsports is making a good call by replacing Kahne with Byron? Let us know in the comments below.