HOMESTEAD, Fla. – After a heartbreaking end to his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title hopes a week prior at Phoenix Int’l Raceway, William Byron repaid his Kyle Busch Motorsports team for their season-long effort in the best way possible on Friday night.
Byron captured his series-leading and rookie-record seventh win of the season during the Ford EcoBoost 200, starting from the pole but watching helplessly for most of the race as Sprint Cup regular Kyle Larson dominated the proceedings.
However, a caution for a spinning Patrick Staropoli changed the fortune of the race and gave the 18-year-old Charlotte, N.C. teenager a chance, allowing him to regroup on pit road but forcing him to restart eighth as a lightning-quick pit stop gave Tyler Reddick the lead out front.
But Byron’s quest for victory was not to be denied.
On the restart, the Liberty University freshman immediately shot to the outside, taking less than four laps to move from eighth to fourth as he hunted down championship contenders and rivals alike ahead of him.
With 17 laps to go, Byron made a daring three-wide pass of title contenders Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter to shoot to second, setting his sights on denying Reddick a shot at leaving Brad Keselowski Racing in victory lane.
Though it took him seven more circuits to chase Reddick down, Byron used a textbook inside pass to claim the top spot with 10 to go, taking the lead for good off turn two and never looking back en route to an emotional win.
Byron held back tears in Victory Lane as he spoke highly of his KBM team, as the teenager will move on from them to join JR Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series next year.
“It feels awesome. It is incredible. This team has worked so hard all year. We just had an unfortunate situation last week that we couldn’t control,” said Byron. “I hate this team not being together next year. It is just insane how good they are. There’s so many talented people on this race team and I’m proud to be able to give them a win to close the season.”
The win clinched the NCWTS Owner’s Championship for Byron’s No. 9 Kyle Busch Motorsports team, marking KBM’s fifth-career title as an organization since debuting in 2010.
Reddick finished second, 2.175 seconds adrift at the checkered flag, followed by 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter.
For more on Sauter’s championship drive, click here.
Larson finished fourth after leading 76 of 134 laps, with Daniel Hemric completing the top five.
Crafton came home second in points and seventh in the race, followed by fellow Chase contenders Christopher Bell and Timothy Peters, who finished eighth and ninth, respectively.
Friday’s race saw 15 lead changes between five different drivers and was slowed by caution four times for 18 laps.
The 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season kicks off Friday, Feb. 24 with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 from Daytona Int’l Speedway.