Rookie William Byron Captures His First NASCAR XFINITY Series Win In Iowaby Camille Jones June 25, 2017
NEWTON, Iowa – William Byron led 78 laps as he drove his way to his first-career victory in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in Saturday night’s American Ethanol E15 250 Presented by Enogen at Iowa Speedway.
Byron, driving the No. 9 Axalta/WINDSOR Window & Doors Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, earned his first victory in his only 14th start in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The win comes as a little redemption after last weekend when he lost by 0.012 seconds to Denny Hamlin in an encumbered finish at Michigan. So far in Byron’s rookie season, the 19-year-old has collected eight top-10 finishes. Byron also became the youngest NASCAR XFINITY Series winner at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night.
“Man, it feels awesome,” said Byron in Victory Lane. “Thank you Mr. H (Rick Hendrick) for giving me this opportunity. It’s so cool to run full-time in this series. Everything’s come full circle for me. I raced late models for JRM (JR Motorsports) a few years ago, and I remember L.W. telling me he wanted to see me in an XFINITY car, so 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 a little bit loose one run and then we got back on cycle there at the end and was able to take off.”
A restart with 10 laps remaining in the 250-lap event set Byron up to charge for the lead in order to go on to capture the win. He battled side-by-side with Ryan Sieg, driver of the No. 39 Ritchie Chevrolet, before opening his lead up to almost a second. A door-to-door heated race between Sieg and Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 42 BBR/Jason Aldean Chevrolet, took place in the closing laps as Byron continued to drive off.
Byron ultimately captured the checkered flag, but a diverse, young group of top-five finishers followed in behind him. Sieg went on to finish in the second position, while third place went to Reddick.
“It’s amazing,” Sieg said after capturing his best finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. “When I was driving around I was like ‘I can’t believe that we’re second’, but it’s really awesome. It was a lot of fun racing with Tyler there and try to race for the win. I just can’t thank everybody enough.”
Ross Chastain who competes for JD Motorsports that’s based out of Gaffney, South Carolina captured the fourth-place finish.
Following his best-career series finish, Chastain said, “I know that there’s a lot of circumstances in the top-five,” Chastain said. “It’s a little different than what anybody thought, and on lap 20, I would’ve put a lot of money on that we wouldn’t be here. My guys kept swinging at it and swinging changes into this thing all night. I led us down the wrong road a couple of times, and we got it back. This is just a testament to the 4 car and what we do and what these short tracks can do for us.”
Following Chastain was Dakoda Armstrong who finished fifth after surviving hard-fought battles of three and four-wide racing throughout the field.
Each of the top-five finishers in the American Ethanol E15 250 Presented by Enogen earned or tied their career-best finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
The rest of the top-10 was also filled with surprise strong finishes. Michael Annett took home the sixth-place spot, followed by Jeremy Clements, Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier and Garrett Smithley, who also claimed his best-career series finish.
There were nine cautions in the event at the 7/8-mile oval, totaling up to 65 laps being run with the yellow flag waving.
On lap 80, the caution flag waved when Sam Hornish, Jr. made hard contact with the outside wall after Christopher Bell moved up the track and cut his tire down. Hornish Jr., driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Discount Tire Ford was expected to be a strong contender in the race, but he was unable to continue following the crash.
When the yellow was thrown again on lap 219, race leader, Christopher Bell was involved once again. Brennan Poole came off the wall just a bit, allowing for Ryan Reed to go the outside of him. Poole got loose and made contact with Bell, sending his car up into the side of Reed’s car. Bell continued to compete, but he finished a disappointing 16th after starting on the pole and leading 152 laps, most of any driver on Saturday night.
Elliott Sadler who ended the day with an eighth-place finish will continue to hold onto the lead of the NASCAR XFINITY Series points standings by 25 points over his JR Motorsports teammate, Justin Allgaier.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to competition next weekend at Daytona International Raceway for the Daytona Firecracker 250 Presented by Coca-Cola on June 30 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Live race coverage will be found on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images