Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: William Byron Scores 4th Career Win at Kentucky Speedway

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In a Nutshell: William Byron scored his third win in the last four races and his fourth overall when he took the checkered flag 0.190 seconds ahead of John Hunter Nemechek in thursday night’s Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway. Byron held off a hard-charging Nemechek and Daniel Hemric in the final 42 laps to take the victory. Hemric finished third, followed by Christopher Bell and Johnny Sauter, who rounded out the top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Simply put, there’s no stopping William Byron and the No. 9 team at this time. As strong as Erik Jones was last season, Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle have hit on something special this year. After qualifying third, Byron led a single circuit over teammate Daniel Suarez early on but was in command for the final 69 circuits.

Race Rundown

Spencer Gallagher, Kyle Busch Tangle

Just 58 laps into thursday night’s race, Kyle Busch, who was mired deep in the field after repairs to his truck when the splitter was dragging the track and the ensuing penalty for too many crew members over the wall, spun off of the right front corner of Spencer Gallagher’s No. 23 truck. the loser in a three-wide battle with Gallagher and Jordan Anderson, Busch’s truck was terminally damaged in the wreck; he finished 30th.

Understandably upset, Busch didn’t mince his words after emerging from the infield care center, saying, “I now know how John Wes Townley feels,” referencing the wreck between Townley and Gallagher at Gateway Motorsports Park two weeks ago.

“We were going down the backstretch and Spencer checked up because he saw a hole in the bottom and went to the bottom, because he thought he could get there,” Busch said. “Yeah, Jordan Anderson kept his foot in the gas and didn’t check up but if you’re going to do that, you’ve got to stick to your original plan and do what you planned on doing.

Gallagher took responsibility for his role in the wreck but was none too pleased.

“We got taken three-wide [by Jordan Anderson] for no good (expletive) reason, fighting for 16th,” Gallagher said. “We got loose as hell and I wrecked Kyle.

“I feel terrible. that’s the last thing I want to do is wreck Kyle Busch for freaking 16th place. Lap 60. that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever been a part of in racing. I just don’t understand why we were put in that situation. I’m very distraught about that.”

I guess I saw the incident a little different than Gallagher and Busch did. It looked to me that Anderson got one heck of a run going into the corner and put his truck in the hole that was there on the track. There wasn’t any contact between Gallagher and Anderson, and it appeared the air disturbance that often plagues these trucks in two- and three-wide battles got Gallagher loose, spinning the Busch on the outside.

While I can understand Gallagher’s frustrations, it seems like his blame is a little misplaced there. And to expect that someone won’t take the opportunity to go three wide when the hole is there is just asinine and not in the true spirit of what racing should be all about.

Parker Kligerman Sub Role Spoiled

While John Wes Townley sat out of thursday night’s race for a possible concussion, Parker Kligerman, whose No. 92 Ricky Benton Racing team opted to sit this week’s event out, was tapped to pilot the No. 05 Chevrolet for Athenian Motorsports. In Townley’s place, Kligerman excelled, leading the first of two practice sessions on Wednesday, before backing it up with a sixth-place qualifying effort.

When the green flag flew, Kligerman looked racy through the early run on the slick track, but handling woes kept him from being truly competitive. To make matters worse, a blistered tire forced him down pit road under green, where he went two laps down and never recovered. Kligerman finished 19th, one lap down in his sub role.

“First and foremost, obviously we’re hoping JWT has a speedy recovery,” Kligerman said. “this is not the circumstances you want to get in a truck this good, but it’s cool nonetheless to have the opportunity. After practice and qualifying I was really confident,” Kligerman said. “I think [(James) Villeneuve, Crew Chief] and all of these guys did a great job with this Jive Chevy. “We were crushing it in practice and qualifying. I felt like we had a shot at the pole, but I just got a little tight.”

“I’ll be back in the No. 92 at Bristol,” Kligerman continued. “that’s going to be our next race. We’re going to do, probably Talladega, Martinsville, we’ll decide on one or two of the three mile-and-a-halves, and Homestead. I’ll definitely be at that.”

Quick Hits:

  • Brett Moffitt was tapped to pilot the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota in place of Matt Tifft, who’s recovering from brain surgery one week ago. Moffitt excelled in his substitute role, leading one of the two practice sessions held on Wednesday and starting on the outside pole thursday night. But that role was short-lived when his engine expired in a spectacular puff of smoke after just 26 laps. He ended up finishing 31st, ahead of only Caleb Roark, who never ended up starting the race.

  • William Byron’s victory marked the 51st trip to Victory Lane for Kyle Busch Motorsports. the organization has surpassed Roush Fenway Racing as the winningest team in the history of the Truck Series. the win also locks Byron into the inaugural Chase.
  • AM Racing welcomed a familiar face as a new addition to the team this week. Championship winning crew chief Rick Ren has joined the organization to serve as crew chief for rookie Austin Wayne Self. Ren and Self’s debut race together didn’t go as planned when Self was involved in a hard wreck with Rico Abreu, and though the team attempted to make repairs through multiple stops to remain on the lead lap, a broken oil line had other ideas and sent the No. 22 Toyota to the garage area. Though Self did get back out on track, he ultimately retired due to tramission issues after 98 laps run; he finished 27th.
  • Daniel Suarez scored his first career Truck Series pole thursday evening and led the field to green. He led 59 of the first 61 laps before a four-tire pit stop mired him back in 12th for the next restart. Without the clean air that allowed him to pull away from the field earlier, Suarez was unable to make any major progress. And to add insult to injury, he got busted for speeding on pit road under the final caution period and finished 11th.
  • Earlier this week, Young’s Motorsports announced a driver change for Kentucky. In place of regular driver Tyler Young, the organization opted to put development driver Austin Hill in the No. 02 for Thursday night’s race. The move, made by Young, who was no longer eligible to race for the championship in this year’s inaugural Chase after sitting out Iowa Speedway, was designed to help advance the team’s budding development program. Though Hill ran as high as 11th, he finished an unremarkable 18th.
  • The Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 marked the first race since the November, 2012 event at Texas Motor Speedway where Kyle Busch was entered but failed to lead a single lap.

Truck Rookie Report
2016 Rookie of the Year Candidates
No. 00 Cole Custer
No. 4 Christopher Bell
No. 9 William Byron
No. 18 Cody Coughlin
No. 22 Austin Wayne Self
No. 33 Grant Enfinger
No. 41 Ben Rhodes
No. 98 Rico Abreu

No. of Rookies in the Race: 12 (add Brandon Brown, Austin Hill, Tommy Joe Martins, Brett Moffitt and Garrett Smithley)

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 2; William Byron, finished first; Christopher Bell, finished fourth

Rookie of the Race: winner William Byron

2016 Chase Qualifiers:

Johnny Sauter (Daytona)
John Hunter Nemechek (Atlanta)
William Byron (Kansas, Texas, Iowa, Kentucky)
Matt Crafton (Dover & Charlotte)


Up Next: the Camping World Truck Series will sit idle until Wednesday, July 20 when teams take to Eldora Speedway for the annual dirt race. Coverage for the Aspen Dental 150 begins with qualifying at 5:15 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate and SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

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