It was a journey that the Floridian admitted was “a bit of a roller coaster” at times during the night.
“We got two laps down early and that was a killer,” said Lyons. “We got boxed in behind T.J Bell because something broke in his truck in the dogleg … and I didn’t realize he was 100 mph off the pace on the high side until it was almost too late. I had Joe Nemechek on my inside, and it was so close; I got by but lost a ton of ground. I went the second lap down with four to go in the first stage, so I’m almost positive that we would’ve stayed one lap down there but it just all didn’t quite work. I took the wave-around and we were going to try to make it on fuel … but we ran out on lap 78.”
“Then it was jsut about hanging in there till the end. When I saw them go four-wide I was like, ‘Holy crap, four-wide!’ and then (Ryan) Truex made it six (wide) and I was just staring. It was like being back at the Summer Shootout, where I was already starting to brake because I saw it coming together in front of me and I knew it wouldn’t be good. I saw Truex get hit in the right rear and I was like, ‘Please don’t go right, stop going right!’ and man, that truck hit hard … but we made it through.”
Lyons even escaped a scare on the penultimate lap, nearly being hooked out of the race by teammate Jason Hathaway.
“We were going through the dogleg coming to the white flag, and my teammate (Jason) was on the outside of me … I didn’t hear anything from my spotter, so I swung it up there and got hit in the right rear,” Lyons said. “I about went into the wall in turn three, but I yanked it back left and was sideways going into turn three. Somehow, we ended up saving it. It was a heck of a smoke show, I’m sure. I could hear the tires squealing.”
And at the finish, the scoring pylon and the tears told the tale: a set of lights illuminating the Phoenix night with the No. 49 in 12th on the rundown.
“It was emotional,” Lyons said. “I was crying in the truck, at first … to finish 12th in my first Truck race ever, are you kidding me? If you’d told me that when I went into last week I’d have laughed and said you were nuts. I never could have dreamed that.”
Lyons says that now, with a defining moment already under his belt, “the rest is just icing on the cake.”
“This whole journey … this is all I’ve ever wanted, is to have a shot at this level. I made the decision to sell my late model stuff because I wanted this chance. I’ve always said that if it were a choice between running late models regularly and having a shot to run three or four races on a bigger level … I’d take the shot at a NASCAR ride because I’d enjoy that so much more.”
“There’s no regrets now. This has been amazing so far and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.”
Lyons will return to the seat of the No. 49 Sunwest Construction Chevrolet for Friday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network, as well as a periodic contributor to SPEED SPORT Magazine.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]
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