William Byron scores first NASCAR Xfinity win in hectic Iowa race
One week after coming within arm's reach of his first-career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory, William Byron claimed the checkered flag at Iowa Speedway.
Christopher Bell dominated the opening stage of the race, taking the stage victory over Sam Hornish Jr. and Byron, who was the top Xfinity regular.
"It's been really good out front and it will be interesting to see what it's like in traffic," said Bell after winning Stage 1.
Byron would then win the battle off pit road, leading the way at the start of the second stage with Allgaier directly behind. Kyle Benjamin, who started on the outside of the front row, was sent to the rear of the field for an uncontrolled tire during his first stop of the race.
Hornish knocked out
80 laps into the race, a major contender was taken out of play when Hornish was sent spinning into the outside wall. Bell was attempting to get under the defending Iowa winner for third when he washed up to the track and into the side of the No. 22 machine.
"Car was pretty good," said Hornish after emerging from the infield medical center. "It was getting better and we were heading in the direction we needed. I tried to move my line up just a tad bit in through (turns) three and four and that allowed the No. 20 to get a run on me and seemed like he just overdrove the corner, got loose and and into us. It's a shame for all the guys on this car. Not the way I wanted to debut being back here with Team Penske. Iv'e made my own far share of mistakes but man I hate being on that end of it. Hoping to get the opportunity to come back here and run later on this year. Just not how we wanted it to go at all.
On the ensuing restart, Allgaier got ahead of the pack, but it was short-lived as Bell made his way back into the top spot. But with the stage nearing its conclusion, a caution set-up a sprint to the finish that split strategy throughout the field.. Benjamin spun in Turn 4, sliding down the track and colliding with Ty Majeski, who was making his Xfinity debut with Roush-Fenway Racing. Majeski's night came to end with 100 laps to go when a tire failure sent his already wounded car hard into the outside wall.
While Bell and most of the frontrunners pitted, Brendan Gaughan led a group of nine cars that opted to stay out. The restart came with just two laps to in the stage, resulting in some incredible action as positions were jostled around like a superspeedway race.
With fresh rubber, Byron drove from tenth up to second, but was unable to reach Gaughan, who claimed the Stage 2 victory and a crucial playoff bonus point. "Really excited we finally got one," he said after pitted during the scheduled caution period.
Byron found himself out front again for the start of Stage 3, but Bell never let him get too far away, retaking the lead and holding his own at the sharp end of the field.
Following a crash by Spencer Gallagher, the race went ground, leading to green-flag pit stops. But in those aforementioned pit stops with less than 30 laps to go, the unthinkable happened. Ryan Reed and Brennan Poole got together and race leader Bell was caught up in the mess. He soldiered on, but finished a disappointing 16th in his wounded Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Byron cycled into the race lead with an interesting cast of characters directly behind him. In the closing laps, he was able to fend off Ryan Sieg for his first ever NXS victory, driving the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
"Man, it feels awesome," said 19-year-old Byron in Victory Lane. "Thank you Mr. (Hendrick) for giving me this opportunity. It's so cool to run full-time in this series. Everything has come full-circle for me."
"Just to see it all come to fruition now and have a victory is really awesome and I think we had a first or second-place car. Really proud of these guys."
Sieg brought home second ahead of Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain and Dakoda Armstrong. All drivers inside the top five scored a career-best result.
"Yeah, it was crazy. It was surreal. I just can't thank everybody enough," said Sieg after his runner-up finish.
Michael Annett, Jeremy Clements, Sadler, Allgaier, and Garrett Smithley rounded out the top ten.
Click on image to watch highlights of Byron's first NASCAR Xfinity Series win.
|11||78||Tommy Joe Martins||Chevrolet||250||9.708|
|20||2||Ben Kennedy||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|21||21||Daniel Hemric||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|22||19||Matt Tifft||Toyota||249||1 lap|
|23||33||Brandon Jones||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|24||00||Cole Custer||Ford||249||1 lap|
|25||11||Blake Koch||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|26||62||Brendan Gaughan||Chevrolet||249||1 lap||9|
|27||48||Brennan Poole||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|28||40||Timmy Hill||Dodge||247||3 laps|
|29||07||Ray Black Jr.||Chevrolet||246||4 laps||1|
|30||23||Spencer Gallagher||Chevrolet||244||6 laps|
|31||18||Kyle Benjamin||Toyota||241||9 laps|
|32||3||Harrison Rhodes||Chevrolet||236||14 laps|
|33||90||Dexter Bean||Chevrolet||161||89 laps|
|34||60||Ty Majeski||Ford||143||107 laps|
|35||74||Mike Harmon||Dodge||121||129 laps|
|36||01||Harrison Rhodes||Chevrolet||118||132 laps|
|37||22||Sam Hornish Jr.||Ford||78||172 laps|
|38||13||Carl Long||Chevrolet||18||232 laps|
|39||89||Morgan Shepherd||Chevrolet||16||234 laps|
|40||93||Jeff Green||Chevrolet||6||244 laps|
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