LONG POND, Pa. – Quite simply, there is no stopping William Byron in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Byron set a new record for rookies in the series on Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway, leading 44 of 60 laps in the Pocono Mountains 150 and holding off fellow young gun Cameron Hayley on a four-lap dash to the finish for his fifth win of the season.
The win by Byron broke Kurt Busch’s 16-year-old mark of four wins during the 2000 season, raising the bar as he continues to impress all onlookers with yet another dominant performance. He took the lead from Spencer Gallagher on lap 40, when Gallagher pitted for fuel, and led the rest of the way.
“How good we’ve been running – it’s just a credit to this team, man. This is a great group of guys, led by (crew chief) Rudy Fugle. We just have good chemistry,” Byron said. “We show up and do our jobs. I love being here (in the Truck Series). Winning these things doesn’t come easy … so it’s a good thing every time you can get one.”
Following a disastrous run on the dirt at Eldora Speedway a week ago, Byron said that it was a relief to get back on the pavement – and that another win allows both he and his team to start focusing on their run at a series championship when the Chase begins in Loudon, N.H. in September.
“I think our team is really in good position for the championship. We have so much laser focus on what we are doing right now. Nothing from the outside is throwing us off our game. Last week was a struggle, and I was just ready to get back on asphalt and go with something that I’m used to again. We did that today and it’s just great to come away with another win.”
A track-record nine cautions for 27 laps scrambled the Chase picture dramatically, with five of the day’s incidents coming in turn one – and the two most notable incidents came at laps five and 28 of the 60-lap, 150-mile event, both in ‘Calamity Corner.’
The opening caution saw Tyler Reddick spin out from second on the fifth circuit, while caution number five flew when his Brad Keselowski Racing teammate Daniel Hemric went around in the pack and washed up the race track, collecting Reddick and seriously damaging both of their Chase hopes as they pounded the outside wall.
Reddick fell from eighth to 10th in the Chase Grid standings, while Hemric remained sixth but dropped to just 31 points above the cutoff line.
The final caution, which set up the race-ending restart with four laps to go, came when Spencer Gallagher spun in turn three after contact with Ben Rhodes. Gallagher led 12 circuits – from lap 28 to lap 39 – on a different fuel strategy, but was unable to fight his way back to the front late in the race.
Hayley ultimately used a push from his ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton to capture the runner-up spot on the last restart, fending off Brett Moffitt to tie his best finish of the season.
“We would have liked to have gotten the win, but man that 9 (Byron) was fast,” Hayley said. “He would just run away from us. We ran out (of fuel) coming in (on the cool-down lap) and he had enough to do a burnout, so they were doing something right today. Overall, though, a great run for our team today. I couldn’t be happier with how we performed throughout the race.”
Moffitt finished a career-best third in just his fourth Truck Series start, leading home Red Horse Racing teammate Timothy Peters, who led four laps early on in the race.
“We were in the back a lot today,” Moffitt said. “If you would have told me yesterday that we would finish third today, I wouldn’t have believed you. The guys worked into the night and made a lot of changes to this car and we timed our strategy well today.”
Cole Custer rounded out the top five ahead of Rico Abreu, Ben Kennedy, Johnny Sauter and John Hunter Nemechek.
After an issue with an alternator plug wire at the start of the race that dropped him to the rear from the fourth starting spot, as well as being involved in a lap 16 crash with John Wes Townley that dropped him five laps down, Christopher Bell used a series of free passes on the late-race caution flags to salvage his day and finish 10th.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action on Aug. 17 with the running of the UNOH 200 from Bristol Motor Speedway.
Audio with race winner William Byron: