NASCAR Race Weekend Central

William Byron Stomps the Field at New Hampshire

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After winning the pole earlier Saturday morning, William Byron didn’t have far to go to reach the front of the pack. That’s where he stayed for 161 of the race’s 175 laps.

Building a large lead late in the race Byron had to weave through lap traffic, costing him valuable track time. His Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Christopher Bell cut the lead to under a half-second heading into the final lap, finishing four truck lengths behind the No. 9 truck.

“We got redemption from last week,” Byron said. “I was so down on myself last week making that mistake, so to come back and get this win is really, really good for our team. I was afraid the No. 4  was going to catch us there at the end. We started to get tight, but that’s what happens sometimes when you get out front.”

The victory clinched a spot in the second round of the Chase for Byron, which starts in five weeks. The next two races will be stress free for the college freshman as he leads the series with six victories.

Bell came into Saturday’s race hoping it would turn out similarly to his victory at Gateway in June. Starting from third, the No. 4 Toyota spent much of the day in the runner-up position, leading 11 laps of his own. However, it was a good point’s day for the team.

“All day long we couldn’t run with him,” Bell said. “We had 175 laps to get it done and we didn’t. He was fading at the end and lap traffic was not doing him any favors. In an open race track probably not, but in lap traffic I thought we had a shot at the win.”

Two-time Truck Series champion Matt Crafton kicked off his Chase with a third-place run. The No. 88 truck spent most of the race inside the top five, but could not get the track position he needed to challenge for the victory.

“I raced it just like another race,” Crafton said. “You can’t really focus on a Chase race. You just have to go out there and do your job. You can’t over analyze it because you will make mistakes, so we’re trying to take it one race at a time.

Tyler Reddick was the first non-Chase driver finishing fourth. Timothy Peters rounded out the top five, spending the majority of the 175 laps in the top five.

Cole Cuter rebounded to finish sixth after a Lap 59 spin underneath Johnny Sauter. Kaz Grala crossed the finish line seventh, Brett Moffitt came home eighth, John Hunter Nemechek ninth and Sauter closed out the top 10.

Chase driver Ben Kennedy was just outside the top 10 in 11th. The only Chase driver that is in a deficit heading into Las Vegas is Daniel Hemric, who cut a tire on Lap 25. In the proceeding laps a fire built underneath the left rear tire, causing the brakes to fade. The Brad Keselowski Racing team had to behind the wall to fix the issues. The No. 19 finished 28th, sitting 20 points behind the Chase cutoff.

There were nine cautions on the afternoon, five in which came in the first 60 laps. KBM driver Cody Coughlin ran out of gas during a Lap 103 caution. The No. 51 truck had led three laps earlier in the race, the first laps led in his Truck Series career.

All 175 laps were led by KBM Toyota’s. As the series prepares for a stand alone race next weekend in Las Vegas, John Wes Townley is the defending winner, he finished 12th on Saturday.

 

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