William Byron wins at Loudon in Chase opener

William Byron
William Byron

LOUDON, N. H. – William Byron stole a page from his mentor and team owner, Kyle Busch.

Leading 161 of 175 laps in Saturday’s UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – the first race in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase – Byron cruised to victory, the way Busch has done so many times before, and punched his ticket into the Chase's Round of 6.

Not that runner-up Christopher Bell, Byron’s stablemate at Kyle Busch Motorsports, didn’t make it interesting in the closing laps. As Byron worked traffic in the late going, Bell closed from 1.325 seconds behind with five laps left to .430 seconds down on the next-to-last lap.

But Bell ran out of time and crossed the finish line .446 seconds behind his No. 1-seeded teammate, who won for a series-best sixth time.

"I wore myself out passing some lappers," Byron said. "But with the amount of laps we had left, I thought I'd be OK. I was afraid the 4 (Bell) was going to catch us there at the end. We started to get tight, but that's what happens sometimes when you get out front.

"It was really good – just a great race for us. I can't thank these guys enough. Everyone at KBM, (sponsor) Liberty University – it's just really cool to get a win here in the Chase. It feels awesome."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Two-time series champion Matt Crafton came home third, followed by Tyler Reddick and Timothy Peters.

With the Chase field to be trimmed from eight to six drivers two races hence at Talladega Superspeedway, Ben Kennedy and Daniel Hemric fell below the provisional cut line. Kennedy finished 11th and trails Johnny Sauter (10th on Saturday and sixth in the standings) by one point.

If Kennedy's result was only mildly disappointing, Hemric's was a catastrophe. With his left rear tire cut down to the rim, Hemric spun in Turn 1 on Lap 25 to bring out the third caution of the race. His truck suffered a cut brake line and consequent fire in the left rear wheel well.

Hemric lost 33 laps under repairs, finished 28th and fell to last in the Chase standings, 21 points behind Sauter with two races left in the Round of 8. In all probability, Hemric will have to win one of those two events, at Las Vegas and Talladega, to advance to the Round of 6.

After leading the first 54 laps, Byron lost the top spot briefly when Cody Coughlin stayed out under the fourth caution and Bell, Kennedy, Crafton and Spencer Gallagher leap-frogged ahead of Byron with two-tire and fuel-only calls in the pits.

But Byron regained the lead from Bell on Lap 69 and held it the rest of the way. As Bell gained ground in the final laps, Byron was trying to save his equipment to prepare for a possible late caution.

"I was expecting it, so I didn't push too hard," Byron said. "I was expecting to get a caution, hopefully save something, but we gave it all we had there the whole race, and I just can’t thank these guys enough."

Byron leaves New Hampshire with a 16-point lead in the standings and guaranteed admission to the next round of the Chase. Crafton (+11 points above the cutoff line) is second in the Chase standings, followed by Bell (+10), John Hunter Nemechek (ninth on Saturday, +5), Peters (+3), Sauter (+1), Kennedy (-1) and Hemric (-21).

WILLIAM BYRON, No. 9 Liberty University Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Finishing Position: 1st

How does it feel to win the first-ever NCWTS Chase for the Championship race?

“Yeah, we got redemption from last week. Just can’t thank these KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) guys enough. Everybody on this Liberty University Tundra is doing a great job all season and to get a win now when it counts in the Chase feels so good and I was so down on myself last week making that mistake, so to come back and get this win is really, really good for our team."

What is your outlook for the next two races in this Chase round?

“Well, we just try and win. I mean, we just go out there and compete like we don’t have a win, so that’s our objective and we want to keep the momentum going throughout this Chase so we can make it to Homestead. That’s the ultimate goal."

Did you think Christopher Bell had a chance to catch you at the end?

“I was afraid the 4 (Christopher Bell) was going to catch us there at the end. We started to get tight, but that’s what happens sometimes when you get out front. It was really good – just a great race for us. I can’t thank these guys enough. Everyone at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), Liberty University – it’s just really cool to get a win here in the Chase. It feels awesome."

Is it difficult to race up front for an entire race?

“Well, with these races there usually is cautions at the end. To not get a caution there, I was surprised. I was expecting it, so I didn’t push too hard. I was expecting to get a caution, hopefully save something, but we gave it all we had there the whole race and I just can’t thank these guys enough."

Could you have done any better today?

“No, these guys did a great job. I think we tried to over adjust a little bit that last run and it came back to us, but overall just a great truck, great team and we’ll try to keep this going."


Pos. # Driver Manufacturer St. Laps Led Status
1 9 William Byron Toyota 1 175 161 Running
2 4 Christopher Bell Toyota 3 175 11 Running
3 88 Matt Crafton Toyota 7 175 0 Running
4 29 Tyler Reddick Ford 4 175 0 Running
5 17 Timothy Peters Toyota 2 175 0 Running
6 00 Cole Custer Chevrolet 14 175 0 Running
7 24 Kaz Grala Chevrolet 9 175 0 Running
8 11 Brett Moffitt Toyota 6 175 0 Running
9 8 John Hunter Nemechek Chevrolet 15 175 0 Running
10 21 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet 10 175 0 Running
11 33 Ben Kennedy Chevrolet 12 175 0 Running
12 05 John Wes Townley Chevrolet 17 175 0 Running
13 16 Stewart Friesen Chevrolet 19 175 0 Running
14 23 Spencer Gallagher Chevrolet 18 175 0 Running
15 41 Ben Rhodes Toyota 5 175 0 Running
16 81 Ryan Truex Toyota 20 174 0 Running
17 98 Rico Abreu Toyota 21 174 0 Running
18 50 Travis Kvapil Chevrolet 31 174 0 Running
19 13 Cameron Hayley Toyota 8 174 0 Running
20 51 Cody Coughlin Toyota 16 173 3 Running
21 44 Tommy Joe Martins Chevrolet 25 172 0 Running
22 66 Jordan Anderson Chevrolet 23 171 0 Running
23 07 Matt Mills Chevrolet 24 171 0 Running
24 71 Alon Day Chevrolet 27 171 0 Running
25 1 Jennifer Jo Cobb Chevrolet 28 170 0 Running
26 74 Timothy Viens Chevrolet 29 160 0 Running
27 49 Josh Wise Chevrolet 26 147 0 Running
28 19 Daniel Hemric Ford 13 127 0 Running
29 22 Austin Wayne Self Toyota 22 126 0 Accident
30 02 Austin Hill Ford 11 105 0 Oil Line
31 63 Akinori Ogata Chevrolet 32 75 0 Running
32 10 Caleb Roark Chevrolet 30 0 0 Accident