Daniel Suarez celebrates in Victory Lane at Phoenix International Raceway.
Credit: Blaine Ohigashi
by Courtney Horn
Daniel Suarez earned his first Camping World Truck Series victory at Phoenix International Raceway after leading 34 laps at the one-mile tri-oval on Friday night.
“It’s been hard to, for some reason, to get a first victory. Sometimes we’re super strong and things happen,” Suarez said. “But very, very happy that we were able to finally get it done.”
Suarez took the race lead after teammate William Byron blew an engine with just nine laps to go. If he'd hung onto the lead, Byron would have scored his seventh win of the season and clinched his place into the final four. He led the most laps before bringing out the ninth caution of the night.
"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."
While Byron’s hopes of contending for the championship were put to an end, Timothy Peters and ThorSport Racing’s Matt Crafton battled throughout the night for valuable positions.
"There wasn’t a lap that wasn’t tense," Crafton said. "We just raced hard from the beginning to the end."
Christopher Bell capitalized on his teammate’s troubles and finished seventh, clinching the final position in the last round of the Chase.
Ahead of the Finale
The Camping World Truck Series heads to Homestead next week to determine the 2016 champion from among the Championship 4 drivers: Sauter, Crafton, Bell and Peters.
Sauter and Peters join Bell in looking for a first NASCAR title, while two-time champion Crafton pursues his third in four years.
You can catch all the CWTS season finale action on Nov. 18th at 8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.