May 21, 2022

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Byron brings home Martinsville Speedway win in long-awaited return to NASCAR Truck Series | Auto Racing

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A lot has changed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since the last time William Byron raced in a truck. New faces, different engines, more aggressive racing.

If Byron was uncomfortable being back in a truck for just the second time since 2016, he didn’t show it. He gradually fought his way from the back of the pack to the front on the way to a win in Thursday’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 200 at Martinsville Speedway.

Practice and qualifying for Thursday’s race was canceled due to rain that hit Martinsville late in the afternoon. The missed time on the track meant not only would Byron have to start the race in the 32nd spot, but he didn’t have any chance to get reacquainted with how to drive it.

At the beginning of the race, he could feel the discomfort.

“I didn’t feel comfortable at all in the truck the first 20 laps of the race,” he told reporters after the win. “Trying to feel it out and feel where the shift points were. I was way off on that. I was really not used to the engine. So just getting used to all that.”

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Byron was able to stay out of trouble in a race that had a lot of it. There were 11 cautions for 71 laps, and 26 caution laps in the first stage.

There was just one green flag lap between Laps 9 and 23.

“The first five laps I was all right racing there with Hailie (Deegan) and racing with Johnny (Sauter), and they were all racing really good. A couple of the other guys were struggling on the bottom. There were a couple issues here and there,” Byron said. “I was fine like the first 10 laps and we had that long caution and I started to panic. I’m like, man, I’m way far back. If we’re going to run this many cautions how am I going to get to the front?”

Byron moved up to 18th by the end of Stage 1, and was running 11th by the end of Stage 2.

Since Byron wasn’t running for points, he made simply getting to the front a priority.

The back half of the race was much calmer, and the final 36 laps ran under green. Byron first took the lead on Lap 105, and was up front for all but two of the remaining laps of the race.

“I was really nervous about a restart,” he said. “I felt like if I could keep the tires under the car as that long run progressed, it was a lot longer than I thought. We got about 20 laps in and I thought, man, I guess we’re getting kind of a rhythm here. And that was nice for me to kind of learn the truck and learn what I needed.

“I felt like if I could just get through one I was O.K., but my restarts were kind of choppy all night. I thought I was a little vulnerable if somebody got a good restart.”

Thursday’s was Byron’s first Martinsville win in any racing series. He’s hoping he can use what he learned and apply it to the Martinsville Cup Series race on Saturday night.

“It’s been a fun ride since I’ve been in the Truck Series and it’s good to come back and learn some things for Saturday, but also just have fun. I enjoy racing and Mr. H (Rick Hendrick, owner of Byron’s Cup Series team, Hendrick Motorsports) has given us a great platform to go race and putting deals together for us, so it’s really cool.

“It’s cool to get a win and hopefully we can do it again.”

Sauter finished Thursday in second. Kyle Busch, John Hunter Nemechek, and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top five.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck

Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 200

At Martinsville (Va.) Speedway

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (32) William Byron, Chev, 200 laps, 0 points.

2. (36) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 200, 35.

3. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 200, 0.

4. (5) John H. Nemechek, Toyota, 200, 46.

5. (3) Ben Rhodes, Toyota, 200, 50.

6. (4) Chandler Smith, Toyota, 200, 31.

7. (11) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 200, 30.

8. (12) Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 200, 37.

9. (1) Zane Smith, Ford, 200, 45.

10. (8) Tyler Ankrum, Toyota, 200, 28.

11. (16) Ty Majeski, Toyota, 200, 31.

12. (7) Christian Eckes, Toyota, 200, 39.

13. (6) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 200, 33.

14. (10) Derek Kraus, Chevrolet, 200, 27.

15. (23) Matt DiBenedetto, Chev, 200, 26.

16. (18) Parker Kligerman, Chev, 200, 24.

17. (9) Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, 200, 28.

18. (26) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 200, 19.

19. (31) Hailie Deegan, Ford, 200, 18.

20. (15) Lawless Alan, Chevrolet, 200, 17.

21. (13) Tanner Gray, Ford, 200, 19.

22. (21) Tate Fogleman, Toyota, 200, 15.

23. (20) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 200, 14.

24. (35) Bret Holmes, Chevrolet, 199, 13.

25. (27) Chase Janes, Toyota, 199, 12.

26. (19) Taylor Gray, Ford, 198, 12.

27. (25) Jesse Little, Chevrolet, 198, 10.

28. (30) Blake Lothian, Chevrolet, 198, 9.

29. (17) Chase Purdy, Toyota, 197, 10.

30. (14) Kris Wright, Chevrolet, 195, 7.

31. (22) Austin Wayne Self, Chev, brakes, 157, 6.

32. (33) Dillon Steuer, Chev, accident, 122, 5.

33. (24) Spencer Boyd, Chev, electrical, 119, 4.

34. (34) Kaden Honeycutt, Toy, accident, 107, 3.

35. (29) Jack Wood, Chev, accident, 26, 2.

36. (28) D. Thompson, Chev, electrical, 13, 1.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 58.662 mph.

Time of Race: 1 hour, 47 minutes, 36 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 1.138 seconds.

Caution Flags: 11 for 71 laps.

Lead Changes: 9 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders: Z.Smith 0-55; B.Rhodes 56-80; K.Busch 81; B.Rhodes 82-103; C.Hocevar 104; W.Byron 105-107; C.Smith 108; W.Byron 109-115; C.Smith 116; W.Byron 117-200

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): W.Byron, 3 times for 94 laps; Z.Smith, 1 time for 55 laps; B.Rhodes, 2 times for 47 laps; C.Smith, 2 times for 2 laps; K.Busch, 1 time for 1 lap; C.Hocevar, 1 time for 1 lap.

Wins: Z.Smith, 2; C.Smith, 1; C.Heim, 1.

Top 16 in Points: 1. B.Rhodes, 205; 2. C.Smith, 201; 3. Z.Smith, 184; 4. S.Friesen, 180; 5. J.Nemechek, 161; 6. C.Eckes, 161; 7. T.Gray, 158; 8. T.Majeski, 153; 9. M.Crafton, 132; 10. T.Ankrum, 132; 11. D.Kraus, 131; 12. C.Hocevar, 130; 13. G.Enfinger, 125; 14. M.DiBenedetto, 107; 15. A.Self, 100; 16. T.Hill, 92.

Cara Cooper is a sports writer for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at [email protected]



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