Dominating Performance Leads to Disappointment for Byron at Phoenix
William Byron came to Phoenix International Raceway with his sights set on clinching his place in the Championship 4. It looked as though it would happen after winning the pole and leading the most laps, but with only nine laps to go the engine in his Liberty University Tundra gave up leaving Byron in 27th place and outside of the top four headed into the final race of the season.
After claiming his second pole of the season, Byron dominated much of the race. He led 112 of the 150 laps and had a sizeable lead with 10 laps to go when he radioed to his Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team that he believed the engine was about to blow. Everyone hoped it could hold on for the final 10 laps, but that was not the case. Byron came to pit road with nine laps to go and the team determined his night was over.
The 27-place finish dashed his hopes of completing his rookie Cinderella season with a championship since he was unable to make the Championship 4 heading into the final race of the season next weekend.
"We had been running hot a little bit the last run and kind of all night, but it stayed within temperature range and just started to vibrate maybe the lap before, and I thought it was the tires and didn't think it was a big deal," Byron said. "It just sputtered and had flames coming out the cowl. It just stinks for this KBM team, they've worked so hard. It just happens I guess. It was a great Liberty University Tundra tonight. Thanks to all my guys at KBM. We'll go to Homestead and try to get one more win."
KBM's Daniel Suarez won his first Truck Series race, followed by Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Cameron Haley and Timothy Peters rounded out the top five. KBM's Christopher Bell finished seventh, which put him into the Championship 4. Noah Gragson, who will be a full-time driver for KBM in 2017, finished 16th in his first Truck Series start.
Next week is the final race for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway on Friday, November 18. Live coverage of the Truck Series race will air on FS1 at 8 p.m. ET.
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