Insider Lumps William Byron in the Same Category as Jimmie Johnson With Surprising “Mr. Vanilla” Personality Dig

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After William Byron brought home his second win of the 2024 season at COTA, many insiders and fans believe that the #24 driver is the next big thing in NASCAR. Whilst the comparisons so far have remained between Byron and his competent teammates at Hendrick Motorsports, the 26-year-old now finds himself being compared to legends such as Jimmie Johnson. Although it was his on-track success that prompted Kenny Wallace to make the initial comparison, insiders from the Rubbin is Racing podcast further highlighted the similarities in their personalities and revealed that while Byron is an absolute monster inside a racecar, his off-track persona perhaps doesn’t match that same energy.
What makes William Byron so similar to Jimmie Johnson?
The start of the 2024 season has been nothing but spectacular for the #24 garage and crew chief Rudy Fugle. After all, the HMS outfit has outscored all its counterparts and rivals with their two wins. In only two seasons, Byron has racked up more wins than he ever did before, even beating out drivers like Chase Elliott. Naturally, fans now expect Byron to be right in front every weekend, reminding many of Jimmie Johnson’s golden era.
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With that said, Byron and Johnson are similar in more ways than just their on-track dominance. Both drivers, despite having the talent to back up any trash talk, have rarely strayed away from their path of humbleness. Reflecting on this commonality, the Barstool Sports hosts stated; “He’s the guy who’s in a modern rocket ship of a car, with all the best support, one of the greatest pit crews, and he just doesn’t make mistakes, but when he gets out of the car, he’s sort of Mr. Vanilla.”
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Sharing that they too noticed the personality comparison between Johnson and Byron the way Kenny Wallace had done, the hosts dissected the key similarities. They stated, “I think William Byron’s going to be in a league of his own when it’s all said and done. I mean, who’s to say?” Whilst the hosts believed Byron could even surpass Johnson, they also shared how these are the kind of drivers who always remain humble. “I do see kind of very quiet, dry, humble dudes. At the end of their career, they will be differentiated (from the rest) just based on the era that they came from,” the host concluded by saying.
It’s safe to say that more insiders and veterans are slowly catching onto Byron’s meteoric rise to glory. But while the 26-year-old may go down to become the Jimmie Johnson of his era, another legendary veteran pointed out how William Byron could recreate one of HMS’ greatest drivers’ legacy.
Kyle Petty has an open challenge for Byron’s critics
It’s no secret just how deep the ties between Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsport run. After all, the four-time Cup champion was once responsible for molding NASCAR’s winningest team’s path toward success. So deep was their partnership that even after he retired from racing, Gordon continued to lead HMS as the executive vice-chairman of the iconic team, the position he still holds to this day. With that said, one of NASCAR’s most iconic drivers, Kyle Petty, believes that William Byron could very well be the next Jeff Gordon.
In a new video for NASCAR, Petty silenced the critics of Byron and shared high praise for the 26-year-old. He stated, “I’ve said this before. I think what we’re also seeing at this time is the ascension of Lord William Byron, to the head of Hendrick Motorsports. To the top of the ladder, above Chase Elliott, above Kyle Larson, above Alex Bowman, above everybody there. He is the next Jeff Gordon to take this team, grab it by the reins, and lead it into the next era.”
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Petty brought up comparisons between Byron and his teammates to point out his strong position within the team. Kyle Larson was always going to be a perennial contender, but Byron was one step ahead of Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman at all times. With the sport’s seasoned drivers losing their form over the years, Byron could very well become the next big thing in NASCAR.
To conclude, Petty delivered an open challenge to the doubters; “You can send me nasty stuff. I don’t care. I’ll be standing right there when William Byron is the head of Hendrick Motorsports and has all those championship trophies, with a big t-shirt on that says, ‘Told you so!’”
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After taking a look at all the big names that William Byron is being compared to, one thing’s for certain: There is perhaps no driver more poised to lead the Next Gen era than the #24 Hendrick Motorsports driver.

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