William Byron blasts past Matt Crafton for the win at Texas

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
By Lisa Janine Cloud

William Byron stalked leader Matt Crafton lap after lap at Texas Motor Speedway, waiting for the chance to get past the veteran. The 18-year-old rookie grabbed the lead with four to go in the Rattlesnake 400, held off a hard-charging Rico Abreu, and scored his second victory in just his eighth Camping World Truck Series start.

Crafton dominated most of Friday's race despite having a tire issue early that sent him to the pits. Restarting 25th, the two-time series champion drove up through the field and back to the point by Lap 35. Crafton led 133 of 167 laps but said that the last set of tires affected the handling on the No. 88 Tundra. He couldn’t hold off Byron’s relentless pursuit and had to settle for second.

“If I could have done it any differently, I would have.” Crafton said. “We just lost all drive off the corner for whatever reason there. We ran so hard at the beginning of that run that it had zero drive off. It says a lot about this team. If you look at the right side of this Tundra and how beat up this thing is, we led the most laps and should of, could of won this race. It’s all about these guys and never giving up.”

Abreu, Crafton’s ThorSport teammate, made a run for Byron in the closing laps, running what Crafton called a “high, wide and handsome line.” Looking much like fellow dirt racer Kyle Larson, Abreu bounced off the wall once and kept going, but a second impact pancaked the right side of the truck, slowing him significantly. He crossed the finish line in ninth place.

“We’ll just build off of that,” Abreu stated. “Obviously not the finishes we want. I’ve crashed so many trucks by these guys. Duke and Rhonda Thorson (owners), I just thank them for believing in me and giving me this opportunity at ThorSport Racing with Safelite and Curb Records – they’re all here because I’m here. I’m just really disappointed – I wish I could get them better finishes. I know we have speed, I just have a lot of drive and am never going to quit.”

Byron became the youngest driver to win in the Camping World Truck Series at Texas Motor Speedway. Erik Jones previously held that record. Byron also became the second-youngest driver in any series to win, behind Chase Elliott.

Johnny Sauter, Ben Kennedy and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top five. Cole Custer, who received his high school diploma onstage pre-race, finished in 14th.

Crafton leaves Texas still holding an 18-point lead over Timothy Peters.

Unofficial Results:

1   William Byron
2   Matt Crafton
3   Johnny Sauter
4   Ben Kennedy
5   Tyler Reddick
6   Timothy Peters
7   John Hunter Nemechek
8   German Quiroga
9   Rico Abreu
10   Daniel Hemric
11   Ben Rhodes
12   Cody Coughlin
13   Austin Wayne Self
14   Cole Custer
15   Austin Hill
16   Caleb Holman
17   John Wes Townley
18   Cameron Hayley
19   Jesse Little
20   Parker Kligerman
21   Tyler Young
22   Jordan Anderson
23   Wayne Edwards
24   Travis Kvapil
25   Tommy Joe Martins
26   Ryan Lynch
27   Spencer Gallagher
28   Mike Bliss
29   Tim Viens
30   Ryan Ellis
31   Carlos Contreras
32   Christopher Bell

William Byron blasts past Matt Crafton for the win at Texas William Byron blasts past Matt Crafton for the win at Texas Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Saturday, June 11, 2016 Rating: 5