Byron earns decisive NASCAR Trucks comeback victory at Martinsville
William Byron powerfully proved Thursday night that he hadn’t forgotten how to drive a truck.
Making just his second start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since 2016 – after a blown engine knocked him out of the Nashville race last year – Byron turned perfect pit strategy into a decisive victory in the Blue -Emu Maximum Pain Relief 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
In his last full season in the series in 2016, Byron won seven races before moving on to the Xfinity Series and finally the Cup Series.
With Kevin “Bono” Manion in his pit and with input from Cup crew chief Rudy Fugle, Byron took his #7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet to pit road for the final time on lap 83 of 200 and took the lead when the trucks in front of him pitted at the end of Stage 2 on lap 104.
The 24-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina led all but two of the last 96 laps and beat runner-up Johnny Sauter to the finish line by 1.138 seconds. Kyle Busch ran third, followed by John Hunter Nemechek and defending series champion Ben Rhodes.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Byron, who already has a Cup win in Atlanta on his hands this season. “Big crowd here in Martinsville. I never won a race at Martinsville and struggled here when I was in the late models.
“Yeah, just great to get the win tonight – great truck tonight, the HendrickCars.com Chevrolet. Thanks to Spire, all the guys are back in their shop. They don’t have a lot of guys, and they do it well, obviously. It was fun working with Bono, having a little help from Rudy. Obviously he knows trucks pretty well.”
The race was also a homecoming for Sauter. Making his second start of the season, the 2016 series champion drove a Toyota ThorSport Racing for the first time since last year, his last full-time season with the organization.
Junior Joiner, Matt Crafton’s longtime crew chief, returned to call the race for Sauter after retiring from full-time competition at the end of the 2021 season.
“I told Joiner today, I told him not to listen to me when I give you my comments on the first run,” Sauter said. “I asked for an adjustment, and I shouldn’t have. I thought we pulled a lot and were just a little too tight about two-thirds into the turn…
“It was the first in-house chassis, the in-house body for ThorSport. Going home second was pretty solid.
Sauter chased Byron after the final restart with 36 laps to go but couldn’t match the speed of Byron’s Silverado.
The race featured 11 cautions for 71 laps. Zane Smith won the first wire-to-wire stage and Rhodes won the second stage.
Chandler Smith, Crafton, Grant Finallyger, Zane Smith and Tyler Ankrun finished sixth through 10th respectively. Rhodes leads the NCWTS standings by four points over second-placed Chandler Smith.