Byron wins the race, Sauter takes the title in Miami

by Tucker White On Fri, Nov. 18, 2016

Johnny Sauter holds the Camping World Truck Series championship trophy up atop the stage to celebrate victory in the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Photo: Noel Lanier/OnPitRoad.com

William Byron took the lead in the closing laps to close out the season with a victory, but it was Johnny Sauter, one of the elder statesman of the series, who beat the competition to finally add a championship to his resume.

Byron scored the pole for the race and led the 20 laps before ceding the lead to Matt Crafton. He didn’t make much noise for most of the race until the final caution flew with 24 laps to go. He came out second behind Tyler Reddick, who exited pit road with the race lead.

He stayed hot on Reddick right from the final restart with 20 to go and took the lead exiting Turn 2 with 10 to go to drive on to victory.

“It feels awesome,” Byron said. “It’s just – it’s incredible. I mean this team has worked so hard all year. We just had an unfortunate situation last week that we couldn’t control, but, man, they brought a good truck. Qualified on the pole.”

It was the seventh victory in 24 career starts in the Camping World Truck Series for the driver of the No. 9 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.

“These guys just are awesome,” he added. “God, I hate leaving this – I just hate this team not being together next year. It’s just insane how good they are and so many talented people on this race team. Can’t thank KBM enough, Toyota, Kyle and Samantha (Busch, Kyle Busch’s wife), everyone at KBM, (sponsor) Liberty University – it’s just amazing.”

He also secured Sunoco Rookie of The Year honors.

Sauter brought his No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet home third, which was enough to secure him his first series championship.

“You know, not just me, it’s the whole team, everybody at GMS Racing,” Sauter said in victory lane. “We qualified bad today. Really, we were kind of worried about it. Felt pretty good in race trim.

“Just proud of these guys for their flawless execution tonight. Joe (Shear) made great adjustments to where I could just kind of hang on. I’m not a high line guy. So I elected to keep doing my deal and they actually found some pretty good grip on the bottom of the race track.

“Proud to be a champion. I’m gonna do everything in our power to represent NASCAR as best we can.”

He was asked what point he realized he had a truck that could win the title.

“I was pretty conservative at the beginning of the race just trying to take care of it and not make any stupid mistakes,” he added. “Then there was about probably 85 laps to go, I was like ‘Okay, we’ll start picking them off here,’ and just had a solid day in the pits.

“With about 50 to 60 to go, I was like ‘Okay, we’ve got something here,’ and we were really catching the 88. It looked like he was pushing real bad.”

Kyle Larson, who led a race high of 76 laps, finished fourth.

Matt Crafton, Christopher Bell and Timothy Peters finished seventh, eighth and ninth.

Three of the four cautions were brought out by Patrick Staropoli. The other was for a spin by Stewart Friesen.

Twenty-four trucks finished the race on the lead lap and only Ryan Truex failed to finish the race.

The race lasted one hour, 32 minutes and 57 seconds at an average speed of 129.747 mph. There were 15 lead changes among five different drivers and four cautions for 18 laps.

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