William Byron’s sensational rookie season on the NASCAR Truck Series continued Thursday night when he won the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway.
Byron, who graduated from Charlotte Country Day in May, held off Mooresville’s John Hunter Nemechek and Kannapolis’ Daniel Hemric to win his fourth race of the season. Byron, who is locked into a berth in the Chase, already had victories at Texas, Kansas and Iowa.
“This team has taken off,” said Byron, 18. “To be with (crew chief) Rudy (Fugle) every week, in the shop talking, studying lots of tape. We have that connection. There’s a progression we’ve seen. We knew we had good things coming, but to close the deal is another thing.”
Byron, who started third, led 70 laps. With Hemric was on his tail for many of them before Nemechek tracked the leaders down with a few laps to go. Nemechek was able to get past Hemric, but couldn’t track down Byron.
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“With about 10 (laps) to go, I was playing offense and defense for a while,” said Hemric. “I tried to make a run there for the win, but came up short.”
Byron’s victory also provided Kyle Busch Motorsports with its 51st victory in the Truck series, a record. What Byron has accomplished so far has impressed his boss, Busch, who finished 30th after a wreck on Lap 56.
“I’ve been really impressed with William has done,” said Busch. “He’s done a tremendous job in our stuff and made the most of the opportunity he has. It’s pretty impressive that we’ve had just 10 races (this season) and he has won four of them. I’m looking for some pretty cool things down the stretch from Rudy and William.”
Busch has 45 career Truck victories, but he didn’t win his fourth race until his fourth season.
“I don’t see anything of myself in (Byron),” Busch said, laughing. “He’s a heck of a lot smarter at his age than I was and a lot more mature. He’s doing a really good job of putting it together in good stuff. You you’ve got to do a good job behind the wheel; that’s what it takes. You can be in really good stuff and not win. That’s not a talented race car driver.
“He’s had a good run as of late. Once that first (win) happened, boom, the floodgates opened.”