The Gateway Arch in St. Louis was built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States. The arch is visible from Gateway Motorsport Park in Madison, Ill., where rookie driver William Byron looks to expand his current winning streak in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). Byron, who graduated from high school less than a month ago, has won three of the last five races and the last two consecutive races at Texas Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway. This weekend Byron goes for three.
The 18-year-old has impressed and surprised many people by finding success so quickly, not just in the NCWTS, but in nearly every division in which he's raced. In his first season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2015, he won Rookie of the Year and more importantly the series' championship. With three wins in the first eight races and a sizeable lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, Byron may be on track to accomplish that feat again.
Byron has no experience at Gateway, but that does not seem to make a difference. He had never raced at Kansas Speedway, where he claimed his first win this season, or Texas where he roped his second win. He seems to have no trouble adapting to new tracks, thanks in part to his crew chief, Rudy Fugle, who led Erik Jones to the driver's championship last year. Fugle has a knack for working with young rookies and helping them realize their full potential in the Truck Series.
This weekend Byron and Fugle both have their sights set on the trophy at Gateway. Byron wants his third-consecutive win and Fugle wants to make up for a few wins that got away from Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in previous years. Last year Jones won the pole and led 84 laps in the same Tundra the team has prepared for this weekend, but was taken out of contention late in the race. A similar incident occurred in 2014 making Fugle and the KBM team even more hungry for a win at Gateway.
Based on their momentum and perseverance, the No. 9 Liberty University Tundra may very well end up in Victory Lane Saturday night at Gateway, expanding Byron's rookie lead and his experience leading up to the inaugural Chase races later this season.