LIBERTY’S PATRIOTIC SCHEME: William Byron’s No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will have a special patriotic twist to the primary paint scheme this weekend. American flag details were added inside the Liberty University logos on the hood and the quarter panels to support the launch of NASCAR’s annual “NASCAR Salutes” initiative. The program is the industry’s collective expression of respect and gratitude for those who have served and continue to defend our nation today. Watch the patriotic No. 24 Liberty University Chevy come to life by clicking here.
HONORING MEMBERS OF THE U.S. ARMED FORCES: Perhaps the most notable feature of the Liberty University patriotic paint scheme will be seen on the No. 24 Chevy’s windshield, as the space that typically features the series sponsor will be replaced with the name of Maj. Michael Donahue. As part of NASCAR’s “600 Miles of Remembrance” program, all 40 drivers will honor United States Armed Forces members who have fallen in service for their country. Liberty is also featuring an additional name above the driver’s door.
MAJ. MICHAEL DONAHUE: Donahue, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, is a respected Liberty alumnus and was an assistant professor of military science for Liberty's Army ROTC program from August 2008 to July 2010, during which time he completed his master's degree in education and his Ed.D. Donahue served three combat tours of duty in the U.S. Army in which he was stationed in South Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. On Sept. 16, 2014, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Donahue's life was taken when a Taliban suicide bomber drove a vehicle laced with explosives into a foreign military convoy on the base. Donahue's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge and the Senior Parachutist Badge.
DR. CHARLIE DAVIDSON: In addition to Donahue’s name on the windshield, Liberty University and the No. 24 team will also recognize another member of the United States Armed Forces – Dr. Charlie Davidson – by putting his name over the driver’s-side door in place of Byron’s. Davidson was a beloved Liberty faculty member who served in the chaplaincy department and made an incredible impact on the faculty, staff, and students of Liberty for many years. Lt. Col. Davidson was the first award recipient for George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award to represent the U.S. Air Force. He was the first Air Force chaplain to set foot on the soil of Baghdad, Iraq, and the first Air Force chaplain to be awarded the Bronze Star Medal for bravery and valor under hostile fire and combat conditions in Operation Iraqi Freedom on Nov. 7, 2003. His numerous awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Joint Service Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with three oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and the Humanitarian Service Medal. Davidson also served on the board of directors at Bristol Raceway Ministries in Bristol, Tennessee.
CHARLOTTEAN: Byron, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, finished seventh in the Open race before last Saturday night’s all-star event at Charlotte Motor Speedway, albeit with a different rules package than the NASCAR Cup Series will utilize this weekend. A win wouldn’t be out of the question for Byron, as seven drivers have picked up their first career wins in the 600-mile event. Two Hendrick Motorsports drivers have accomplished the feat – Jeff Gordon in 1994 and Casey Mears in 2007. Matt Kenseth won the race as a rookie in 2000. Byron himself has experience at the track in other series in addition to last weekend’s race. In two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he earned finishes of 14th and 16th. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Byron earned the pole and finished 10th at Charlotte. He began his racing career in Charlotte when his father took Byron to visit the U.S. Legend Cars International headquarters in Harrisburg, North Carolina, in the summer of 2012 to learn about a way to begin racing. Byron began competing in the U.S. Legend Young Lion Division in 2013, a year in which he won nearly half of the 69 legend car events he raced across the United States. All totaled, he earned 33 victories en route to the 2013 U.S. Legend Young Lions National Championship and the 2013 Thursday Thunder Young Lions championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway. After enjoying success in legend cars, Byron was ready to move up to full-size cars in 2014 and he hasn’t looked back.
TEAM LEADER WITH EXPERIENCE: No. 24 team crew chief Darian Grubb is no stranger to success at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The championship-winning crew chief has two wins specifically in the 600-mile race, with drivers Casey Mears (2007) and Carl Edwards (2015). The 2007 win with Mears came in Grubb’s first year as a full-time crew chief for Hendrick Motorsports. Grubb had previously served as the lead engineer for the No. 48 team.
ICYMI – AXALTA DARLINGTON THROWBACK SCHEME: Byron will pilot a throwback No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 paying homage to one of the most famous No. 24 paint schemes of all time – Jeff Gordon’s iconic rainbow-colored ride from the 1990s – at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 2. The throwback was unveiled last Friday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a special ceremony featuring an original painting by Sam Bass titled “Hot Southern Night.” Bass has designed all but one of the primary Axalta Chevrolets for the Nos. 24 and 88 cars, notably including Gordon’s original rainbow paint scheme, which debuted in the 1992 season finale. Byron’s throwback isn’t modeled after a particular year. Rather, it is designed to pay tribute to Gordon’s entire NASCAR Cup Series career, which spanned more than two decades and brought with it four championships, 93 wins, 325 top-five finishes, 477 top-10s and nearly 25,000 laps led. Gordon drove the rainbow Chevrolet from his debut in 1992 through the 2000 season – and it returned for one final ride at Bristol Motor Speedway during his final full-time season in 2015. To see the paint scheme, click here.
HOME TRACK: In addition to Charlotte Motor Speedway serving as the home track for Byron, who was born and raised in Charlotte, several other North Carolina natives on the No. 24 team claim the track as their home base as well, including race engineer Michael Oxendine, who hails from Lumberton; engineer Matt Piercy from Conover; and three members of the pit crew – tire carrier/jackman Eric Ludwig from Burlington, jackman/tire carrier Scott Riddle from Ramseur, and fueler Landon Walker from North Wilkesboro.
CHEVY STAGE: Byron will make an appearance at the Team Chevy stage on Sunday, May 27, at 3 p.m. ET. Fans can visit the Chevy stage in the midway to see the Q&A with Byron.
WATCH FOR BYRON: In case you missed it, Byron was included in two very different features this week. The first was a video for BuzzFeed Blue’s YouTube channel, where Byron and fellow Cup Series competitor Daniel Suarez took the written version of the driver’s ed test. Secondly, Byron was profiled in a sports documentary show called “The American Athlete,” which aired starting Friday, May 18.
William Byron on racing 600 miles at Charlotte:
“Hopefully we can improve on our performance in Kansas and have a chance to work with the car. It’s a long race at Charlotte, so hopefully we stay up near the front and get some points in each of the stages to make up some points there, and then just have a good race. It’s an honor to have Maj. Donahue and Lt. Col. Davidson on the car this weekend. It’s a great-looking car and should be a lot of fun.”