William Byron snags first win as leaders crash on final lap
William Byron would rather be lucky than good.
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On Friday, in just his fifth start in the Camping World Truck Series, the 18-year-old Charlotte native held on at Kansas Speedway for his first career win.
“This is a dream come true,” Byron said. “I was six years old watching truck races. I didn’t start racing until I was 14. Just to have a Toyota Tundra like this is amazing.”
He led 34 laps and appeared to be sailing off to his first career win in trucks — until Tyler Reddick turned sideways in Turn 2 with six laps to go.
“I think I lost both of ‘em,” said Reddick, who was running sixth at the time.
When the race went green, Johnny Sauter, who restarted third, took the lead but was turned by Ben Rhodes in Turn 3 and dropped to the back of the field. Byron regained the lead to finish 0.190-seconds ahead of Matt Crafton.
Sauter was less than pleased with Rhodes following the race.
"I got run over by a bozo. I don't know if the kid's brain-dead or can't see,” Sauter said. “It’s just unfortunate that sometimes you can’t race the way you want to.”
Rhodes was evaluated and released from the infield care center. He finished 18th, Sauter 16th.
“It’s a shame,” said Crafton, who led 57 laps before contact from Timothy Peters. “We had the truck to beat, but it was just racing.
Daniel Hemric, Christopher Bell and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five finishers in the Toyota Tundra 250.
Rico Abreu tagged the wall on the backstretch on the first lap to ignite the first of 10 cautions. He started 31st after taking an owner’s provisional.
NASCAR’s first of two caution clock expirations — which was responsible for the second caution — triggered a rash of incidents after the lap 49 restart.
A multi-car wreck in Turn 4 following contact between polesitter John Wes Townley and points leader John Hunter Nemechek collected Parker Kligerman in the process.
Kligerman, who entered the race second in the standings, called the accident unfortunate. “This was the track we were going to use in Charlotte,” he said.
Townley recovered to finish 26th, however, Kligerman’s truck was a total loss and the damage to Nemechek would inevitably prove costly. Damage to the right front of the truck led to a cut tire and the fifth caution on Lap 65. Nemechek was forced behind the wall for cautions. He returned to the race 28 laps off the pace and finished 28th.
A mishap between Cole Custer and Brandon Brown on Lap 72 ignited the sixth caution, but both drivers recovered and continued on Lap 77 — until Caution 7, two circuits later. Jordan Anderson made contact with veteran Mike Bliss in Turn 2, then the race went green for 40 laps until the second Caution Clock expiration on Lap 121.
As the yellow lap flew, a tire came off of Anderson’s truck. He stalled at the entrance of pit road — which caused NASCAR to delay pit stops and several truck ran out of gas including Cameron Hayley and Custer.
The race finally returned to green on Lap 127 — with just two cautions slowing the action before Byron could enjoy his first win.
“It was crazy those last couple of restarts, just looking for a green flag run,” Byron said. “I was praying for no cautions, but you have to earn it. My crew chief Rudy Fugle really told me about that on the restarts. You really have to earn it.”
On Friday at Kansas, Byron finally did.
Peters, who finished eighth, now leads the standings by eight points over Daniel Hemric. Byron gained five positions and is currently seventh in the standings, 16 points behind Peters.
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