Daniel Suarez Wins First Truck Race In Phoenix; Championship 4 Field Set For Homestead-Miami Speedwayby Hunter Thomas November 12, 2016 0 comments
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Daniel Suarez won his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night after taking the checkered flag in the Lucas Oil 150. The field for the Championship 4 was also set following Friday’s race.
Suarez only led 34 laps in his Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 ARRIS Toyota Tundra en route to the victory. Suarez now has five top-10 finishes this season. With the win, Toyota locked up the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series manufacturer’s championship. It’s the ninth title in 13 seasons for the manufacturer.
“I guess it was about time to get a little bit of luck,” Suarez said. “We had a lot of second-place finishes and this team, KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) works very hard. What a better way to clinch the Toyota manufacturer’s championship with this victory. I’m very proud of my team, proud of Toyota and proud to be a part of this family. Very proud to be talking to you right now.”
Pole-sitter William Byron looked as if he was going to run away for his seventh career win; however, his championship hopes went up in smoke after experiencing engine issues late in the race. The caution came out for Byron on lap 142. Byron led 112 laps throughout the race. With six wins, 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes this season, the driver of the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 9 Liberty University Toyota Tundra will not advance to the Championship 4 next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, due to the 27th place finish on Friday night in Phoenix.
Byron said, “We had been running hot a little bit the last run and kind of all night but it stayed within temp range and just started to vibrate maybe the lap before and I thought it was the tires and didn’t think it was a big deal, it just sputtered and had flames coming out the cowl right there. Just stinks for this team, they’ve worked so hard. It just happens I guess. Great Liberty University Tundra – thanks to all the guys at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports). We’ll go to Homestead and try to get a win.”
With a non-Chase driver winning the race and Byron having engine issues, the door opened for another driver to race their way into the Championship 4. Finishing second in Friday’s race was Johnny Sauter in the GMS Racing No 21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet Silverado. He was already locked into the final round of the Chase after winning the two opening race of the Round of 6. Rounding out the top-three on Friday was Sauter’s former teammate, Matt Crafton, who raced his way into the Chase in the Lucas Oil 150. Crafton, the driver of the ThorSport Racing No. 88 Slim Jim/Menards Toyota Tundra will now enter the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway looking to battle for his fourth series championship.
“It should be good,” Crafton said. “I don’t have any pressure to be honest. I’ve won a couple of them and it feels good. We’ll just go there and have a shot at it. At the end of the day we had a little shot last year and we threw a Hail Mary and came up a little bit short and got in a wreck at the end. It’s straight up whoever wins, we’re taking off the gloves, I promise you that.”
Timothy Peters in the Red Horse Racing No. 17 Toyota Tundra will also compete for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. Friday night’s fifth place finish marked his eighth top-five and 15th top-10 of the season. The 12-year series veteran has never won a championship. The closest that he came to the title was back in 2012, when he finished out the season in second.
Peters said, “Homestead has been a great track for me and we’ve been able to finish in the top-five the last three years there and I love that – worn out race track and ride right up by the fence and if that doesn’t work then you can go to the bottom. Just a lot of different characteristics of that race track that can help your balance and I’m ready.”
Christopher Bell will join Sauter, Crafton and Peters in the Championship 4 after crossing the finish line in the seventh position on Friday night. Bell has nine top-five finishes and 16 top-10 finishes in 2016. This season is only the first full-time effort for Bell, so next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the driver of the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota Tundra will be competing for his first series title.
“Obviously I don’t have the experience that these guys do, but I went to Homestead last year and I ran the whole race and I was able to get some seat time there compared to coming to a place like this where I don’t have any experience,” Bell said. “Homestead is a really neat place and really worn out and it’s really fun to race on. I’m really excited to get there and I know I’m going to have a really fast Tundra underneath me. It’s going to be fun to be able to race for a championship?”
Throughout the night on Friday, there were five lead changes among three drivers. There were also nine cautions for 49 laps.
The entire top-10 consisted of Daniel Suarez, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Cameron Hayley, Timothy Peters, John Hunter Nemechek, Christopher Bell, Matt Tifft , Ben Kennedy and Cole Custer.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season finale will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, November 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Live broadcast of the Ford EcoBoost 300 will air on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images