Daniel Suarez had a lot to smile about Friday night. William Byron on the other hand could only wonder what had happened. Byron, a record six time winner this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series, seemed to be in a position to add another at Phoenix Friday night and punch his ticket to the Championship 4 at Homestead.
Byron led a race high 112 laps and was the truck to beat, but just seven laps from the end, the engine expired and Byron slowly rolled to a stop at the end of pit road. He had lost the race, and any chance to compete for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title.
“We had been running hot a little bit the last run – kind of all night,” Byron said. “It stayed within 10 (degree) range, but it started to vibrate, maybe the lap before… but it didn’t seem like a big deal, then it sputtered and flames came out from underneath the truck.”
Suárez who led 34 laps on the night, and seemed to be the only truck who could compete with Byron, took the lead and scored his first career Truck Series win.
“I guess it was about time to get a little bit of luck,” Suarez said. “We had a lot of second-place finishes and this team, KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) works very hard. What a better way to clinch the Toyota manufacturer’s championship with this victory. I’m very proud of my team, proud of Toyota and proud to be a part of this family. Very proud to be talking to you right now.”
With Byron’s retirement, the Championship 4 picture became crystal clear. Johnny Sauter, Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton, and Timothy Peters will contest the title next week at Homestead.
“I didn’t have any idea about the 9 (William Byron),” Suarez said. “I feel very bad for Byron because he had the best truck out there and did an amazing job. He was running a perfect race and things like this happen in racing I guess. I feel bad for him.”
Sauter was second behind Suárez, followed by Crafton, Cameron Hayle, and Peters. John Hunter Nemechek was sixth followed by Bell, Matt Tifft, Ben Kennedy and Cole Custer. The full results can be found here.
“I promise you there wasn’t a lap that wasn’t tense,” Crafton said. “We drove as hard as we could from the green flag to the checkered flag and Timothy (Peters), I was proud of him. He drove and he took the blows, he was on the outside and he was doing everything he could to get himself into the Chase and I was trying to just stay one spot behind him at all times and I knew that would put me in. We just raced hard and if we came up short, we came up short. At the end of the day, we didn’t.”
The final race of the 2016 Camping World Truck series is the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Friday, November 18, at 8:00 p.m. ET.