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Teen Byron Is Top Texas Trucker

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, June 11 2016
William Byron crosses the finish line to win in Texas on Friday night. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

William Byron crosses the finish line to win in Texas on Friday night. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

FORT WORTH, Texas _Teen-ager William Byron overhauled Matt Crafton with five laps remaining and drove to victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rattlesnake 400 Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

Byron, of Kyle Busch Motorsports, posted his second NCWTS victory at the expense of Crafton, who dominated the 167-lapper after brushing the Turn 3 wall 11 laps into the night. Byron earned his breakthrough series victory earlier this season at Kansas Speedway, a 1.5-mile quadoval similar to TMS.

Byron, 18, is the youngest Truck Series winner at TMS and the second-youngest overall, a record set by Chase Elliott in the XFINITY Series in 2014.

“It’s huge for our race team to get another win this year,” said Byron, a resident of Charlotte, N.C., who won his second series race in eight starts. “We didn’t leave any doubt out there that we deserved to win. It was cool to lead when it counted; to finally finish-out there gives me a bit of confidence. I learned a lot about running the top.”

Byron’s margin of victory was 2.095-seconds and at an average speed of 134.919 mph. Pole-sitter Johnny Sauter finished third, followed by Ben Kennedy and Tyler Reddick.

With 43 laps to go, Crafton and Byron hooked-up in a six-lap, side-by-side duel that lasted until the former took the lead on Lap 129. Crafton held the point until Lap 163, when Byron drove his No. 9 Toyota Tundra into the lead for good.

“I found the top earlier in the race and it didn’t work very well 15 to 20 laps in the run,” said Byron, who led twice for only six of 167 laps. “Once I could get laps on the tires…it’s all about heart and you have to want it and my team wants it and I see that every day.”

Byron said he was frustrated when Crafton chose the outside for the restart on Lap 125, following the night’s fourth caution. “I learned the side draft and to pin him up there. I really pinned him tight,” Byron said. “I was sideways a few times and I hope I earned his respect.”

Crafton admitted he was not initially comfortable racing the rookie side-by-side. “That’s impressive what that kid did,” said Crafton, who was chasing his third consecutive win in the June race here. “If I could have done it any differently, I would have. We just lost all drive off the corner for whatever reason there. We ran so hard at the beginning of that run that it had zero drive off.”

Crew chief Ryan Fugle, who worked with KBM phenom Erik Jones during his run to the series championship last year, placed Byron in the same class. “I’ve got the best race team in the garage,” Fugle said. “We go compete and William plugged-in and has done awesome. Tonight was really cool. He struggled for a run, kept learning and running the top there and looked good.

“We trust out notebook. KBM has a really good notebook; we’ve won a ton of races. We practice nowhere near we race. We use our notebook, all our drivers and crew chiefs and Kyle working tighter.”

Rico Abreu, Crafton’s ThorSport Racing teammate, also passed Crafton’s fading No. 88 Toyota on Lap 164 and began pursuit of Byron. But Abreu’s bid ended when he brushed the wall with his No. 98 Toyota heading into Turn 1, a mishap that dropped him to ninth overall.

“I got the top going in (Turns) 3 and 4 there and I kept following and following and you can only follow for so long,” said Abreu, a two-time Chili Bowl Nationals champion but a Truck Series rookie. “We came to the white (flag) and you have to push it with the way they’ve built this Chase format _ you have to win and he’s (Byron) already won. I wasn’t going to do something too stupid and wreck him because I’ve done that before.

“We’ll just build off of that. Obviously not the finishes we want. I’ve crashed so many trucks for these guys. Duke and Rhonda Thorson (co-owners), I just thank them for believing in me and giving me this opportunity at ThorSport Racing with Safelite and Curb Records _ they’re all here because I’m here.

“I’m just really disappointed. I wish I could get them better finishes. I know we have speed, I just have a lot of drive and am never going to quit.”

Crafton made a major save on Lap 11, when the right front tire on his Toyota blew, sending the truck skating into the Turn 3 wall. Crafton had led the first 10 laps after starting fourth.  The truck suffered damage to the right rear panel, which was patched-up in the pits under direction of crew chief Carl “Junior” Joiner. By Lap 35, Crafton was back in the lead and checking-out.

Crafton’s crew changed three tires during his stop, while NASCAR “gifted” the two-time series champion with a right front. “It says a lot about this team,” Crafton said. “If you look at the right side of this Tundra and how beat up this thing is, we led the most laps (133) and should of/could of won this race. It’s all about these guys and never giving up.”

Crafton has an 18-point lead in the championship over Timothy Peters, who finished sixth. Byron is third, just 23 points behind Crafton.


NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – Rattlesnake 400
Texas Motor Speedway
Fort Worth, Texas
Friday, June 10, 2016

  1. (6) William Byron #, Toyota, 167.
  2. (4) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 167.
  3. (1) Johnny Sauter, Chevrolet, 167.
  4. (15) Ben Kennedy, Chevrolet, 167.
  5. (5) Tyler Reddick, Ford, 167.
  6. (8) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 167.
  7. (23) John H. Nemechek, Chevrolet, 167.
  8. (2) German Quiroga, Toyota, 167.
  9. (13) Rico Abreu #, Toyota, 167.
  10. (3) Daniel Hemric, Ford, 167.
  11. (12) Ben Rhodes #, Toyota, 167.
  12. (14) Cody Coughlin #, Toyota, 167.
  13. (18) Austin Wayne Self, Toyota, 167.
  14. (16) Cole Custer #, Chevrolet, 167.
  15. (27) Austin Hill, Ford, 167.
  16. (20) Caleb Holman, Toyota, 166.
  17. (7) John Wes Townley, Chevrolet, 166.
  18. (11) Cameron Hayley, Toyota, 165.
  19. (21) Jesse Little, Toyota, 165.
  20. (22) Parker Kligerman, Ford, 164.
  21. (19) Tyler Young, Chevrolet, 164.
  22. (17) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 164.
  23. (29) Wayne Edwards, Chevrolet, 164.
  24. (25) Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, 163.
  25. (24) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 160.
  26. (28) Ryan Lynch, Chevrolet, 158.
  27. (10) Spencer Gallagher, Chevrolet, 153.
  28. (26) Mike Bliss, Chevrolet, Accident, 92.
  29. (32) Timothy Viens, Chevrolet, Vibration, 56.
  30. (31) Ryan Ellis(i), Chevrolet, Suspension, 30.
  31. (30) Carlos Contreras, Chevrolet, Engine, 4.
  32. (9) Christopher Bell #, Toyota, Engine, 0.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  134.919 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 51 Mins, 24 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.095 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 22 laps.

Lead Changes:  11 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   J. Sauter 0; M. Crafton 1-10; J. Sauter 11-16; D. Hemric 17-34; M. Crafton 35-57; D. Hemric 58; M. Crafton 59-100; J. Sauter 101-103; M. Crafton 104-127; W. Byron # 128; M. Crafton 129-162; W. Byron # 163-167.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Crafton 5 times for 133 laps; D. Hemric 2 times for 19 laps; J. Sauter 2 times for 9 laps; W. Byron # 2 times for 6 laps.

Top 10 in Points: M. Crafton – 194; T. Peters – 176; W. Byron # – 171; D. Hemric – 168; J. Nemechek – 153; T. Reddick – 153; J. Sauter – 151; S. Gallagher – 145; B. Kennedy – 142; R. Truex – 129.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, June 11 2016
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