William Byron avoids last-lap crash, wins first Truck series race of career
William Byron, only five races into his Camping World Truck Series career, earned his first series win Friday night at Kansas Speedway after avoiding a last-lap crash in Turn 4 between leaders Johnny Sauter and Ben Rhodes.
Byron, 18, took the checkered flag driving the No. 9 Liberty University Toyota to claim the win in the Toyota Tundra 250.
“This is a dream come true,” Byron told Fox Sports 1. “I was 6 years old watching Truck races and didn’t start racing until I was 14. To be in a Toyota Tundra like this is amazing.”
The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver had never led any laps in a Truck race until the 34 he led Friday.
On Lap 165 of a scheduled 168, Tyler Reddick spun while racing Clint Bowyer, bringing out the 10th caution of the night and eliminating Byron’s large lead.
Byron got shuffled back a few spots on the restart as Sauter and Rhodes took off. When their wreck unfolded, Byron, who was third, dove to the apron and out of harm’s way.
“It was crazy the last couple of restarts,” Byron said. “I had the lead there on the green-flag run. I was really just praying for no cautions, but you have to earn it. My crew chief, Rudy Fugle, really told me that on all the restarts, ‘This is how you earn it.’”
Byron, a member of the NASCAR Next class, won the 2015 K&N Pro Series East championship after earning four wins. But the teenager from Charlotte, North Carolina, didn’t even know how to execute a burnout.
“I just kind of found the gears and watched the smoke in the back,” Byron said. “I visualized this for a bit, but never thought it would come like this.
Byron was followed by Matt Crafton, Daniel Hemric, Christopher Bell and Clint Bowyer.
HOW WILLIAM BYRON WON: After a bad restart in overtime, Byron stayed with the leaders, who wrecked on the last lap in Turn 4. Byron avoided the incident and raced to the finish.
WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Matt Crafton started 13th and led 57 laps. He got loose racing for the lead on a late restart, which sent him back to around 15th. Crafton drove his No. 88 truck back to second thanks to the last-lap crash … Tyler Reddick started from the pole and led 56 laps, but Reddick caused the 10th caution of the night while running in fourth with three laps to go. Reddick avoided hitting anything and finished 13th … Daniel Hemric finished third for his best finish in 30 Truck series starts ... Ryan Truex finished sixth to give him a top-10 finish in all four races this season.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: After starting from the rear, rookie Rico Abreu brought out a caution on the first lap after hitting the wall in Turn 2, causing significant damage to his truck bed. He finished 22nd … During a Lap 50 restart, pole-sitter John Wes Townley, points leader John Hunter Nemechek and Parker Kligerman were involved in a crash in Turn 3. After Townley saved his truck from spinning, he clipped Kligerman, who went head-on into the outside wall. Kligerman was able to walk to the ambulance. Townley would finish 26th, 21 laps down… Nemechek could bring out another caution on Lap 66 after hitting the wall and finished 28th … Johnny Sauter had to start from the rear after unapproved changes and was called for speeding in the middle of the race. The Daytona winner battled back to lead in overtime but finished 15th getting tangled with Rhodes coming to the checkered flag.
NOTABLE: A truck series regular has qualified for the series’ Chase playoff with a win in three of four races ... The caution clock was used twice in a race that featured 11 cautions.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I just got ran over by a bozo. I don’t know if the kid’s brain dead or he can’t see.” – Johnny Sauter on Ben Rhodes after they wrecked on the final lap.
WHAT’S NEXT: Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway at 5:30 p.m. ET on May 13 on Fox Sports 1.