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Teen Byron Collects Xfinity Win At Indy

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 22 2017

William Byron earned the right to kiss the bricks at Indy by way of an Xfinity Series win on Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Ashley R Dickerson)

Teenager William Byron held off NASCAR Cup Series veterans Paul Menard and Joey Logano over Saturday’s final laps to become the youngest winner of a major race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, capturing victory in the Lilly Diabetes 250 Xfinity Series race.

Byron _ at 19 years, 7 months _ edged Menard by 0.108-seconds in his No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro fielded by JR Motorsports, owned by NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Matheus Leist was the previous youngest winner of a premier or major support series race on the 2.5-mile IMS oval when he won the Freedom 100 Indy Lights event at age 19 years, 8 months in May 2017. Marco Andretti won an Indy Lights race in 2005 and Marc Marquez won a Moto2 motorcycle race in 2011 at IMS both at age 18, but those events were on the road-course.

“This the first time I’ve come here, a couple of days ago,” said Byron, a resident of Charlotte, N.C. “It’s such a special place, just walking into the place. I’ve watched a lot of races here on TV and seeing the history and to make laps around here is just really special. To see the front stretch _ how narrow it is with grandstands on both sides when you come down the front straight _ it’s a really special place. It’s neat to get a win and does a lot for us this year and hopefully propels us to a championship.”

A new NASCAR rules package for cars in this race, which included restrictor plates for the engines and aero ducts on the bodywork, was designed to create more passing and close racing. Three event records were set in the race’s sixth edition:

_ Lead changes: 16. The previous record was nine.

_ Leaders: Eight. The previous record was six.

_ Margin of victory: 0.108-seconds. The previous record was 0.411-seconds.

Byron started third and won the first stage. He and Logano marched in lockstep around the famed oval as the top two cars late in the final stage after leader Kyle Busch and second place Erik Jones pitted on Lap 82 of the 100-lapper. Busch and Jones figured the other leading cars would pit later for fresh Goodyear tires; they were wrong.

“We could make it on fuel, but we were worried about tires,” Jones said. “We were cording tires every run after 15 laps, so we made the conservative call, came in and put tires on. Unfortunately, it was the wrong call.”

Logano stalked Byron over the closing laps in his No. 22 Ford Mustang, never falling more than half of a second behind the leader from Lap 85 to Lap 97. But Menard powered his No. 2 Chevrolet past Logano on Lap 98 and set sail for Byron.

“Yeah, I was nervous,” Byron said about the closing laps. “I definitely thought he (Menard) and the No. 22 (Logano) were really strong. Looks like Joey faded at the end. Over the last 15 or 20 laps, I thought the tire was going to go. But it hung on.”

Menard, the 2011 Brickyard 400 winner, pulled to within 0.119-seconds of Byron after Lap 98 and 0.112-seconds as the white flag flew to signal the final lap. But Byron drove an inch-perfect final trip around the oval to earn his third win in just 18 starts during his rookie season, marking him as one of the brightest future stars of the sport.

“Man, it sucks being that close but the kid is really good,” Menard said of Byron. “I was better in (Turns) 2, 3 and 4. Turn 1’s the slowest corner, so I actually had to come quite a bit out of the throttle, and he was able to carry a little bit more speed through there.”

Logano ended up third. Pole-sitter Elliott Sadler, who won the second stage, finished fourth overall in the No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet. Cole Custer placed fifth in the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford.

Busch, looking to win this race for the third straight year, ended up 12th in the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Rowdy Toyota Camry after his tire-change gamble failed. Busch led a race-high 44 laps.

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NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Lilly Diabetes 250

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Speedway, Indiana

Saturday, July 22, 2017

  1. (3) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 100.
  2. (15) Paul Menard(i), Chevrolet, 100.
  3. (12) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 100.
  4. (1) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 100.
  5. (6) Cole Custer #, Ford, 100.
  6. (10) Ryan Reed, Ford, 100.
  7. (17) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 100.
  8. (13) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 100.
  9. (14) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 100.
  10. (19) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 100.
  11. (7) Matt Tifft #, Toyota, 100.
  12. (11) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 100.
  13. (16) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 100.
  14. (8) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 100.
  15. (21) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 100.
  16. (23) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 100.
  17. (22) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 100.
  18. (9) Ben Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 100.
  19. (25) Jeb Burton, Toyota, 100.
  20. (24) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 99.
  21. (33) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 99.
  22. (29) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 99.
  23. (2) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, 99.
  24. (30) Ray Black II, Chevrolet, 99.
  25. (5) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 99.
  26. (31) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 99.
  27. (26) Mario Gosselin, Chevrolet, 99.
  28. (20) Spencer Gallagher #, Chevrolet, 99.
  29. (35) David Starr, Chevrolet, 99.
  30. (37) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 98.
  31. (32) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 98.
  32. (39) Chad Finchum, Dodge, 98.
  33. (34) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 93.
  34. (40) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Transmission, 90.
  35. (4) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 86.
  36. (36) Timmy Hill, Toyota, Clutch, 40.
  37. (18) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, Accident, 38.
  38. (27) Reed Sorenson(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 23.
  39. (38) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Engine, 22.
  40. (28) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Vibration, 9.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  126.227 mph.

Time of Race:  01 Hrs, 58 Mins, 50 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.108 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 22 laps.

Lead Changes:  16 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   E. Sadler 1-16; K. Busch(i) 17; M. Shepherd 18; D. Hemric # 19; K. Busch(i) 20-22; W. Byron # 23-31; H. Rhodes 32; K. Busch(i) 33-52; J. Allgaier 53-56; K. Busch(i) 57; E. Sadler 58-60; G. Smithley 61; K. Busch(i) 62-69; W. Byron # 70; K. Busch(i) 71-81; E. Sadler 82-84; W. Byron # 85-100.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Busch(i) 6 times for 44 laps; W. Byron # 3 times for 26 laps; E. Sadler 3 times for 22 laps; J. Allgaier 1 time for 4 laps; M. Shepherd 1 time for 1 lap; D. Hemric # 1 time for 1 lap; G. Smithley 1 time for 1 lap; H. Rhodes 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,18,22,00,48,3,42,2,1,19

Stage #2 Top Ten: 1,48,21,62,33,4,96,14,39,51

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 22 2017
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