William Byron had never raced at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, or Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth until this year. The goal was for the 18-year-old rookie contender to run all the laps, log seat time and gain experience on the bigger, faster tracks and hopefully get solid finishes. Byron exceeded those expectations by winning both races in dramatic fashion at tracks where he was the underdog. This weekend, Byron heads to Iowa Speedway in Newton where he already has two starts and one win under his belt. If he could win at two tracks where he's never been before, what are the expectations this weekend when he is familiar with the track? We will find out Saturday night in the Speediatrics 200.
Byron was not expected to win at Texas last weekend. He ran in the top 10 throughout the race and it looked as though he would finish there. With a few adjustments to his No. 9 Liberty University Tundra late in the race, Byron found his groove, literally on the high side of the track and gained speed. With 10 laps to go he passed veteran Johnny Sauter for second place and began closing in on veteran Matt Crafton who had dominated the race, despite a tire issue early. With five laps to go Byron passed Crafton and pulled away from the field until a late-race challenge from fellow rookie Rico Abreu. He was able to hold off Abreu to win the race after leading only six of 167 laps.
Last spring Bryon won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Iowa. He started from the pole and led 128 of 150 laps en route to the victory. His second trip there did not turn out quite as well in July when he finished 13th, but the additional experience he gained at Iowa will be beneficial when he hits the track Friday afternoon for practice.
His Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team also has quite a bit of experience at Iowa. KBM drivers have collected two wins, two poles, 303 laps led, five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 8.6 across 15 starts at Iowa. In last year's Truck Series event at Iowa, Erik Jones captured the pole and led a race-high 131 laps en route to the victory. Jones also led a race-high 112 laps in his 2014 victory at Iowa.