NEWTON, Iowa — After coming up short by mere inches from his first career victory last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, William Byron shook it right off Saturday night at Iowa Speedway.
This week, the 19-year-old driver had no Cup drivers to deal with and got out front when it mattered in Saturday night’s American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway. Byron pulled away from runner-up Ryan Sieg with 10 laps to go and never looked back for his first-career XFINITY Series win.
“Man, it feels awesome.” Byron said. “Thank you Mr.H for giving me this opportunity. It’s so cool to run full time in the series, everything has come full circle for me. I raced late models for JR Motorsports a few years ago and I remember LW telling me that he wanted to see me in an XFINITY car. Just to see it all come to fruition now and have a victory is really awesome. I think we had a first or second place car, we got loose one run and then we got back on cycle there at the end and was able to take off.
“I’m really proud of these guys, Dave and everyone on the Axalta team. It’s really cool.”
Byron benefited from the race’s major turning point with 32 laps to go, after a dominant Christopher Bell got tangled up with lapped cars Ryan Reed and Brennan Poole, sending the No. 20 ToyotaCare Camry spinning into the turn 3 wall while leading the event. The wreck occurred during a cycle of green-flag pit stops which shuffled up the running order.
The caution was also a blessing for Ryan Sieg and his No. 39 team.
Sieg gained valuable track position and recorded his career-best series finish with a second at Iowa Speedway, holding off Tyler Reddick in the process for the small team’s strong run.
“It was crazy!” Sieg said. “I just can’t thank everybody enough, Bruce and Cowboy, they work hard and it’s amazing! It’s crazy when I was driving around and I kept saying I can’t believe we’re second! It’s really awesome! It’s a lot of fun racing with Tyler there and race for the win. Just can’t thank everybody enough.”
Tyler Reddick came home third in his No. 42 Chevrolet as the top-five drivers all scored their best-series finish-to-date, with the exception of Dakoda Armstrong who tied his career-best with a fifth that also came at Iowa last July.
“We had a car that could really roll the center good, but I couldn’t get back to the throttle and unfortunately that is where I was getting eaten up for most of the night.” Reddick said. “We really couldn’t make passes on the bottom or anywhere for that matter because I couldn’t get off the corner. It’s really cool to race here at Iowa under the lights, it’s really cool to see the racetrack really open up.”
“We had the car with the freshest set of tires on and I just feel like we should have come home with a victory tonight. The odds were in our favor. I just wish on that last restart that we could have been on the outside, then we would have a shot but I just couldn’t get anything on the bottom. I feel like we gave one away here, it’s going to be a tough one to swallow.”
Ross Chastain finished fourth in the No. 4 car while Dakoda Armstrong (fifth) registered JGL Racing’s best finish on a non-restrictor plate track in XFINITY. It previously tied J.J. Yeley’s fifth-place run at Road America in 2014.
Iowa native Michael Annett was sixth followed by Jeremy Clements, points leader Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier and Garrett Smithley, making it two JD Motorsports cars in the top-10.
Defending race winner Sam Hornish Jr. endured tough luck early when Christopher Bell got sideways underneath the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford and slid into Hornish while the two made contact and ended the NASCAR veteran’s night early.
“It was pretty good.” Hornish said. “I felt this thing was getting better and headed into the direction we needed to be. I tried to move my line up just a tad bit through 3 and 4 and that allowed the 20 to get a run on me. Seemed like he just overdrove down in the corner, got loose and into us.”