Sparks Fly as William Byron Prevails in Toyota Tundra 250by Kyle Pokrefky May 7, 2016 0 comments
KANSAS CITY — A wild whirlwind of a finish left several drivers feeling sour towards the end of the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway, but William Byron was certainly not one of them.
Byron scored his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in what was his fifth career start in the series, driving a Kyle Busch Motorsports-prepared No. 9 Toyota to victory lane.
Byron, 18, was the dominant truck in the late stages of the race, yet a bad jump on a green-white-checkered restart shuffled the rookie out of the lead and through the order – cycling Johnny Sauter to the lead over Ben Rhodes.
Sauter and Rhodes engaged in a tight duel that looked to possibly go either way until both competitors collided in Turn 3 of the final lap, sending both trucks into the wall. Byron successfully navigated his way around his wrecked competitors and ultimately took the checkered flag.
“It’s awesome,” Byron stated of his first Truck win. “From all the way from the first race at Phoenix, I knew there was a lot to this. There’s so many different ebbs and flows to the race, it’s just really important to keep your head in the game. That was really evident tonight with the way the last 30 laps went – getting the lead and then on that last restart falling back to third, you just can’t give up.
“Just really proud of this Liberty University team, we had a really fast Toyota Tundra. KBM has really given me a great platform.”
Crossing the finish line behind Byron in the top-10 were Matt Crafton, Daniel Hemric, Christopher Bell, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Truex, Cole Custer, Timothy Peters, Ben Kennedy and Spencer Gallagher.
As Byron celebrated in victory lane with his team, Sauter was left fuming on pit road.
The driver of the No. 21 Allegiant Chevrolet was on his way to his second win of the season and the 12th of his career before being wrapped up in his last corner, last lap accident. At the waving of the checkered flag, the Necedah, Wisc. native was unofficially scored with a 16th-place finish.
“We just had a great restart and the No. 41 truck was obviously in way over his head,” Sauter said. “Obviously he can’t judge closing speeds and he just drove into us and ran us over.
“Our Allegiant Travel Chevy was unbelievable tonight, I’m proud of everybody at GMS at the shop. We came from the back twice and I felt like we had the dominant truck and when we finally got there when we needed and we just got ran over.”
The scheduled 167-lap race was an unusually frantic one with cautions aplenty being found in it.
11 total caution periods occurred in the race with eight of those taking place for either accidents or spins on the race track.
The aggression within the race was evident early as drivers took to the banks of Kansas three or four abreast right off restarts during the early stages of the race. This aggressive maneuvering eventually led to several of the early cautions taking place and it certainly didn’t go unnoticed by Sauter.
“I mean there’s no question, there’s just guys that are in over their head,” Sauter stated. “The problem is none of the guys have had to fix their own race car before – they just show up with their helmets and drive them. They have no appreciation for tearing stuff up, I guess.
“But, whatever, it’s just foolishness, I don’t understand what they’re thinking. If my dad were alive and I was racing like that, he’d beat my ass.”
Exiting Kansas, eighth-place finisher Peters will take an eight-point lead over Hemric into the next race.
The Camping World Truck Series will next
Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images