Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: William Byron Makes History at Pocono

In a Nutshell: William Byron owned Pocono Raceway throughout the weekend. Come Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 150, the No. 9 truck, deemed the one to beat by his competitors, set the pace. Holding off Cameron Hayley on a restart with four laps remaining in the race, Byron earned his fifth triumph of the season, a Truck Series record for a rookie driver. Brett Moffitt, Timothy Peters and Cole Custer rounded out the top 5.

Who Should Have Won: The racing gods got this one right. William Byron, the 18-year-old Kyle Busch Motorsports rookie, was as bright as his Liberty University colors, as he led 44 of 60 laps on Saturday. Showing little signs of weakness, battling treacherous restarts, fuel concerns and a threat of rain in the forecast, Byron and the No. 9 Toyota team made it no mystery why they hold a solid point lead exiting the Tricky Triangle.

Race Rundown:

Brad Keselowski Racing’s Hopes at Pocono Go Straight Into the Tunnel

The Chase is approaching rapidly for the Truck Series, and the battle to make it into the division’s first playoff battle is intensifying.

Entering Pocono Raceway, Brad Keselowski Racing teammates Daniel Hemric and Tyler Reddick were each inside of the top 8 in the standings. However, the Tricky Triangle proved to be one quite difficult for Hemric, a former Late Model standout.

Turn 1 was treacherous throughout the 150-mile contest on Saturday, and Hemric became one of many victims to lose control in the midst of the first corner. His No. 19 truck, which entered the day day third in the standings, got loose on Lap 29. As he attempted to save his truck, he skidded up the racetrack, slamming into Reddick, putting an end to any chance either driver had at competing for a win.

Hemric was able to return to the racetrack, finishing on the lead lap in 22nd. But for Reddick, the result was devastating and one that could have ruined his shot at making the Chase.

Reddick now sits 10th in the standings after recording his second DNF of the season. Sitting one point behind Hayley and Kennedy for the final Chase spot, he is not out of contention yet. However, with three races left before the cutoff, the No. 29 team needs to get the most out of each of the remaining events.

Restart Ruckus Pays Off For Small Teams

Though it may not reach the uncertainty of Daytona or Talladega, Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 150 was an overall solid day for many smaller teams in the Camping World Truck Series, who avoided trouble to grab top-20 finishes.

Ryan Ellis grabbed his second straight Pocono top 20 in 20th spot, also earning his first lead-lap finish since 2014. Kyle Martel, in his first start of 2016, tied his career-best effort in 19th. Earning his first lead-lap of his career, Martel joined Todd Peck, Reed Sorenson and Norm Benning as first-time lead-lap finishers in 2016.

Peck, in fact, grabbed team owner Michael Peck’s first lead-lap finish in six years of Truck Series competition.

Though it was a tough afternoon at the Tricky Triangle for a number of top competitors, it proved to include high marks for the small side of the garage.

Quick Hits: 

  • John Wes Townley returned to the No. 05 truck for Athenian Motorsports this weekend. He competed in the ARCA Racing Series contest on Friday afternoon, finishing runner-up to Chase Briscoe. Townley was sidelined with concussion-like symptoms for the second time in his career recently, missing two events. He was involved in a Lap 17 incident with Christopher Bell, causing a premature end to his day, finishing 29th.
  • Reed Sorenson made his Camping World Truck Series debut this weekend. The Sprint Cup veteran attempted the race at Daytona, but failed to qualify for the event. This weekend, he piloted the No. 49 truck for Premium Motorsports, finishing 18th.
  • FDNY Racing returned to the track after an accident Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. The team, which consists of all volunteers, did not have time to fully repair the truck. That’s when MAKE Motorsports helped out, but on Friday during practice, the No. 28 truck driven by Ryan Ellis has smoke coming out of the exhaust and team owner Jim Rosenblum was notably frustrated prior to Saturday’s race. The team hopes to have its primary truck repaired by Talladega in October. Ellis was able to stay on the lap and finish 20th.

Truck Rookie Report
2016 Rookie of the Year Candidates

No. 00 Cole Custer

No. 4 Christopher Bell

No. 9 William Byron

No. 22 Austin Wayne Self

No. 41 Ben Rhodes

No. 51 Cody Coughlin

No. 98 Rico Abreu

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

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 5; William Byron, finished first; Brett Moffitt, finished third; Cole Custer, finished fifth; Rico Abreu, finished sixth and Christopher Bell, finished 10th.

2016 Chase Qualifiers: 

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

Up Next: It’s back to a mid-week thriller for the Camping World Trucks as the UNOH 200 from Bristol Motor Speedway kicks off on FS1 and MRN on the night of Wednesday, Aug. 3.

Zach Catanzareti contributed to this story.

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