NASCAR Truck: William Byron wins race at Homestead, Johnny Sauter takes title
William Byron celebrates winning the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 18, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Byron started the Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2016 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday night from the pole and was back up front in the closing laps of the race to claim his record seventh win of the season. With the win, he sewed up the series owner championship for his No. 9 Kyle Busch Motorsports team.
“Overall, just a spectacular season by William Byron and the whole No. 9 team,” truck owner Kyle Busch said. “They were flawless all year up until Phoenix; I guess. We had a little problem, there, and knocked ourselves out of contention, but everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports, they do such a great job.”
As Byron took the race win and the Camping World Series owner championship, Johnny Sauter finished third and claimed his title as driver champion.
“This championship means a lot to me, but it means a lot to my family,” Sauter said. “I just can’t thank these guys enough. They executed like they needed to, and I can’t thank the Gallagher family enough for giving me this opportunity. It was a leap of faith to come here over the off-season.”
All four Championship Four drivers posted top-10 finishes, with Matt Crafton, Christopher Bell, and Timothy Peters finishing seventh through ninth. Sauter was the lowest-qualifier of the lot, qualifying 19th earlier in the day.
“I just ran a smart race,” Sauter said. “I’m not going to lie; when we qualified as poorly as we did today, I thought this was going to be tough to do, because you’ve got to take tires here on every pit stop. There is not a real easy way to get track position, so I knew we were going to have to do it by pit stops and passing people.”
Sauter started farthest back of the Championship Four, taking the green flag from the 19th position, but on the final restart with 20 laps remaining, he was third and battled Matt Crafton for position on the race track and for the championship.
After Byron and Crafton led laps early, Kyle Larson took his first lead of the race when he passed Crafton on lap 23.
Larson went on to lead a race-high 76 laps and was the race leader when the yellow flag waved for the final time inside the final 25 laps. But a problem on pit road resulted in a restart of ninth, while Tyler Reddick restarted with the lead and Crafton and Sauter restarted second and third.
Byron restarted outside the top-five, but after a few laps, he passed both Crafton and Sauter to take second as the two championship drivers battled side-by-side. Then, on lap 125, Byron took the lead from Reddick.
“It feels awesome,” Byron said. “It’s just, it’s incredible. I mean, this team has worked so hard all yeear. We just had an unfortunate situation last week that we couldn’t control, but, man, they brought a good truck.”
Tyler Reddick took race runner-up honors. Larson was fourth and Daniel Hemric fifth. Other top-10 finishers included Daniel Hemric in sixth and Cole Custer 10th.
The yellow flag waved four times throughout the race. After Stewart Friesen spun to bring out the first caution on lap 14th, the other three cautions came as a result of Patrick Staropoli, who was making his Truck Series debut.