HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Though he will not have a chance at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver’s championship in Friday night’s Ford EcoBoost 200, William Byron will begin his quest to deliver Kyle Busch Motorsports the series’ owner’s title from the pole.
Byron topped both rounds of knockout qualifying on Friday afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway, winning his third-career Keystone Light Pole Award and second in a row with a lap of 31.600 seconds (170.886 mph) around the 1.5-mile South Florida oval.
The teenager and college freshman will seek his series-leading seventh win of the season behind the wheel of his No. 9 Liberty University Toyota.
“We’ve had an awesome year at Kyle Busch Motorsports,” Byron said after celebrating his third pole of the season. “Hopefully we can finish it off the way we started. It’s really cool to get back to back poles and this is a great moment for us.”
Byron is looking to put last weekend’s engine failure while leading at Phoenix, which ultimately put him on the outside looking in for the championship fight, behind him under the Florida lights.
“Last week was heartbreaking, but we’re moving forward and I know we have a great truck this weekend … we’ve proven that so far. We’ll see what happens … this place is really cool and it’s going to race really awesome under the lights.”
Cole Custer will join Byron on the front row, just missing out on the top spot with a lap of 31.616 seconds (170.800 mph) in his No. 00 Haas Automation/JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
Kyle Larson was third in a fourth entry for GMS Racing, followed by Matt Crafton, who was the highest-qualifying member of the Championship 4 in the No. 88 Menards Toyota for ThorSport Racing.
“I was saying, ‘Come on, William,’ and some people didn’t understand why I was saying that … I want to start on the top,” Crafton explained. “Usually the outside rolls pretty good (at Homestead) on restarts. I’ve got some pretty good company up front in the 24 (Larson) and all of them around me. We’ve got some good track position, and hopefully we can keep it all night long and win this championship.”
Championship contender Timothy Peters was the first driver who failed to advance out of round one, qualifying 13th (32.079/168.334) in his No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota.
Peters will be looking for his first series championship, come race time Friday night.
“We’ll have to be as aggressive as we can,” Peters said of having to come through the field. “We know we’ve got a good truck that’s balanced really well for race runs, so we’re not too worried. We were just a little too free when we mocked up earlier in the day … we helped that situation but we couldn’t quite go like we wanted to on that qualifying run. We think it’ll be okay, though, and I’m excited for tonight.”
Other notables who missed the cut into the run for the pole included Phoenix winner Daniel Suarez (17th) and Chaser Johnny Sauter (19th), who was the lowest of the four title-eligible drivers in qualifying.
Former sprint car and midget star Rico Abreu was 20th and Matt Tifft was 22nd in a second Red Horse Racing Toyota.
Tommy Joe Martins, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Norm Benning were the three drivers who failed to qualify for the 32-truck starting field.