NASCAR Truck: Daniel Surez cracks series win column at Phoenix
Daniel Suarez celebrates in victory lane at Phoenix International Raceway after winning the Lucas Oil 150 on Nov. 11, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
One Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota dominated the Lucas Oil 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., on Friday night, but another drove into victory lane after the race. William Byron dominated, leading 112 laps of the 150 that made up the race, but when his engine blew with fewer than 10 laps remaining, his teammate, Daniel Suarez took the lead and drove on to the win.
“I guess it was about time to get a little bit of luck,” Suarez said. “We had a lot of second-place finishes, and this team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, works very hard. What a better way to clinch the Toyota manufacturer’s championship with this victory. I’m very proud of my team, proud of Toyota and proud to be a part of this family. Very proud to be talking to you right now.”
Friday night’s victory was Suarez’s first-career Truck Series win after four second-place finishes.
With the blown engine, Byron was eliminated from championship contention, cut from the chase with one race remaining, the Nov. 18 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Meanwhile Suarez locked-up the ninth manufacturer’s championship for Toyota.
“Toyota has won nine manufacturer’s championships in just 13 years in the Truck Series, and we’re tremendously proud of the continued accomplishments of our Tundra drivers,” Toyota Motor Sales USA Marketing and Integrated Marketing Operations Vice President Ed Laukes said. “The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the continued success in it by the Tundra is important to the Toyota brand. It also serves as a great showcase for the Tundra, which is built in Texas and has proven its mettle by winning numerous NASCAr championships on the race track.”
Suarez led a total of 34 laps throughout the race. The only lap leader other than Suarez was Tyler Reddick, who led four laps by getting off pit road first after taking only two tires during a lap-64 caution.
Johnny Sauter, already locked into the championship four for Homestead by virtue of his win in the previous two races at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, finished second to Suarez on Friday night.
“We had a great truck, especially on the long runs,” Sauter said. “Unfortunately, I just could not get going in the short run. I was just extremely loose.”
With Byron, the season’s winningest driver with six victories this season, eliminated from the chase, joining Sauter in the championship four will be two-time champion Matt Crafton, Timothy Peters and Christopher Bell. All are Toyota drivers, except for Chevrolet wheel man, Sauter.
Crafton and Peters also finished the PIR race in the top-five, with Crafton taking third and Peters fifth. Non-chaser Cameron Hayley finished fourth. Bell finished seventh.
Despite a top-10 finish, Ben Kennedy, like Byron, was eliminated from the chase after Phoenix. Kennedy finished the race ninth. Byron was the only round of six driver outside the top-10. He was credited with a 27th-place finish.
The race was caution-filled, with the yellow flag waving nine times, four of those times in the first 26 laps. Only about a third of the first 30 laps of the race ran under green.