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While his fellow competitors slammed, spun and maneuvered through trouble behind him, William Byron set sail.
Starting from pole after rain forced qualifying to be cancelled, the 18-year-old Kyle Busch Motorsports rookie led a race-high 44 of 60 laps to win the Pocono Mountains 150. The win is his fifth of the year, which breaks a 16-year record for most wins by a Camping World Truck Series rookie, previously held by Kurt Busch.
“I don’t get too far ahead of our goals, but that was definitely a goal,” Byron said of the mark. “We just show up with so much focus, we never get off track, I feel like.
“You have to be in love with the racetrack to have success.”
Other than Timothy Peters leading the race for four laps, Byron was able to clear each restart and keep the lead.
“We knew this race was going to come down to restarts,” he said. “Luckily, we were in the right position, we got the right breaks.
Finishing second was Cameron Hayley, who tied his career-best effort in his 38th career start.
“Last year, I got beat by a Cup driver and I felt like I could win if there were no Cup drivers,” Hayley said. “Well, now you have William Byron, who is super fast. I wish we sealed the deal but two top 5s in my two starts here – I don’t know what is about this track I like, maybe it’s more suited to a road course and I love road course racing.”
Though Saturday’s event was only 60 laps, the opening 30 circuits turned out to be quite lengthy, with five cautions flying for on-track accidents, split between spins in Turn 1 and Turn 2.
A total of eight cautions slowed the race, giving the opportunity to some who needed a little boost in 2016. Running his second race of year subbing for Matt Tifft, Brett Moffitt used his Sprint Cup Series experience to steer clear of trouble before finishing third.
“I’ve been riding each opportunity I get,” Moffitt said. “I think you see a lot of attrition because it’s the same group of guys that I sit there and watch on TV every week, when someone’s outside of them, they don’t realize that’s going to get them loose.”
It’s safe to say Christopher Bell benefited from the string of cautions more than any other driver. Falling five laps down due to voltage issues, a crash with John Wes Townley put Bell in a massive hole for the rest of the race. However, being awarded five free passes, Bell climbed to a 10th-place finish.
“The restarts were great for me because Id have huge draft runs by the time I got to Turn 1,” Bell said. “A top 10 is pretty remarkable.”
Ben Kennedy, Johnny Sauter and John Hunter Nemechek completed the top 10, while Travis Kvapil, Reed Sorenson and Kyle Martel are some notables who finished in the top 20.
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