DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 19: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, is congratulated by Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #84 Carvana Toyota, in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

William Byron Admits He Suffers From Imposter Syndrome

William Byron has quickly become one of NASCAR's top stars, from his breakout six-win season in 2023 to recently becoming the newest Daytona 500 champion.

Hendrick Motorsports has once again found a driver who can break through. While it has two champions — Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott — who take all the headlines, Byron has quickly and quietly become the team's biggest threat.

Byron has long been viewed as HMS' other guy, being overshadowed by Larson and Elliott's popularity among NASCAR fans.

Byron certainly didn't have the same path as Larson, whose racing background speaks for itself. Nor was he like Elliott, who came from a racing family.

Instead, the 2024 Daytona 500 champion came from sim racing, which has had its challenges. Byron has especially had a lot of doubt hanging over his head as he climbed the ranks.

NASCAR Hall of Famer and Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman, Jeff Gordon, hammered home the point in victory lane at Daytona that Byron has reached superstardom.

Yet Byron hasn't always felt the same. In his post-win press conference, he admitted to The Associated Press that he has long dealt with "imposter syndrome" — that he has felt for the longest time that he didn't belong.

Much of that stemmed from the fact that he was teammates with his racing idol, Jimmie Johnson, when he started his NASCAR Cup career. That certainly put plenty of pressure on Byron when he started in the Cup Series at 20 years old. Add in the fact that he drives Gordon's famed No. 24 car, and the pressure he put on himself ramped up even more.

"I feel like I've always had a bit of imposter syndrome because I race against Jimmie Johnson like this guy was my hero," Byron said. "Literally every Sunday, I had his diecast cars in my room and just dreamed about what it would be like to be in his shoes, and now I get to race against him. It's a pretty crazy emotion to go through, just getting into the Cup Series, just honestly being happy to be there, and then figuring out, 'OK, well what are my goals? What are the things I want to accomplish?'"

Byron admitted he would always feel pressure that he wasn't going to live up to expectations but, despite fearing for the longest time that he could lose his opportunity, he never quit and instead put in the work to overcome that fear.

"I feel like I've always had a bit of kind of work through fear because of fear, and I feel like that's fueled me because I never want to lose the opportunity to race in the Cup Series and have a shot at winning races with the team I'm with," Byron said.

Byron certainly isn't an imposter, and his Daytona 500 win further cemented that fact.

More: How Much Did William Byron Earn for Daytona 500 Victory?