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Byron matching Logano’s pace in pursuit of first title

It’s only midway through May, and William Byron is on pace to shatter many of his best single-season marks, including already setting a NASCAR Cup Series career high with three wins — all in just the first 13 races of the season.

Though they each have very different backgrounds and journeys to the top level of stock car racing, the 25-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver might still be years ahead of his prime and has a nearly identical career arc with a two-time Cup Series champion, currently one of the best drivers in the sport and one of the 75 Greatest Drivers of all time — Joey Logano.

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One of the most highly touted prospects in the modern era, Logano burst onto the premier series scene at 18, collecting his first full-time schedule one year later with high expectations at Joe Gibbs Racing. Byron, a sim-racing superstar, wasn’t far behind when he introduced himself at 20 years old and joined Hendrick Motorsports to take over the legendary No. 24, made famous by NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon.

Each had two very different paths to success, but through their first 193 starts in the Cup Series, their numbers are incredibly similar.

Take a look.

Joey Logano William Byron
Starts 193 193
Poles 8 10
Wins 5 7
Runner-up finishes 2 5
Top-five finishes 32 32
Top-10 finishes 65 69
Laps led 1,044 2,201
Average finish 17.66 16.26

Throughout the time frame, Byron has more Busch Light Pole Awards, victories, runner-up finishes, top-10 finishes and significantly more laps led. And sure, it’s hard to compare a driver’s success in a different era under vastly different circumstances, but the numbers show that Byron is already leaving his mark at a phenomenal pace.

Since his debut in 2018, Byron has been a significant piece of the talented young stable at Hendrick Motorsports, featuring Cup Series champions Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott and seven-time Cup Series winner Alex Bowman. But by leading the series with three victories — winner at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway and Darlington Raceway — Byron is on the verge of a breakout campaign and finally has a chance to flash his talent at the forefront.

And it’s clear that his early accomplishments are putting the series on notice. Even Kyle Busch had to chime in on the rising star’s “rare talent.”

Although there is still a long way to go in the season, the win at Phoenix, specifically, bodes well for the team moving forward. After all, it is the site of the championship race. A race Byron and the No. 24 team fell just six positions short of contending in a year ago, finishing seventh at Martinsville Speedway and sixth in the final series standings.

If he could pull off the feat, unseating reigning champion Joey Logano and collecting his first Bill France Cup, it would be a remarkable, full-circle moment given how tightly both careers — at least by the numbers — have begun.

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Both drivers have a break from regular points-paying racing Sunday at North Wilkesboro Speedway for the annual All-Star Race (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). With a hefty $1 million on the line, Byron is searching for his first All-Star Race victory and Logano his second, after winning the prize in 2016 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Statistics for the table were provided by Racing Insights.