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Byron Wins Ford EcoBoost 200 As Sauter Claims Championship
- Updated: November 19, 2016
Johnny Sauter celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. [Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images]
By Dan Margetta
Homestead, Fla. Nov. 18—William Byron drove to his seventh NASCAR Camping World Series win of the season in the Ford EcoBoost 200 Friday night at the Homestead-Miami Speedway earning team owner Kyle Busch the owners championship while Johnny Sauter finished third, beating three other Chase championship contenders to claim the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.“We had a great truck coming here and obviously expecting to still be in the driver’s championship but we came here and had a fast truck and executed throughout the day,” said Byron who was eliminated from title contention after experiencing mechanical problems a week ago in Phoenix, “ It has been a really solid day for us and just an awesome year with these guys. They’ve taught me so much and really have taken me to another level.”
For Sauter, his first NASCAR championship didn’t come easy as a bland qualifying effort left him starting deep in the field while the three other title contenders Matt Crafton, Timothy Peters, and Christopher Bell all were ahead of him. Throughout the race Sauter and his crew methodically adjusted on his truck and picked his way past each of the Chase contenders before driving away late to a third place finish to secure the championship.
“This championship means a lot obviously and I don’t think it has completely sunk in, “Sauter stated afterwards, “ I’m not going to lie, today I was a little bit nervous when we qualified 19th but I knew that we would race good. We executed like we needed to, had solid pit stops all night and made positions up on the racetrack and here we are. I couldn’t be more proud.”
“Everybody wants to be a champion, you want to win races and be in the hunt so tonight’s deal with the chase was pretty exciting. There was a point there were we ran fifty laps and we would’ve finished fourth in points and then we picked them off one at a time,” Sauter continued, “I’m humbled to be a champion in NASCAR and I want to thank all the right people because I’m very much a small percentage of what’s been accomplished and I really want to thank the people that have made this possible.”
“I didn’t know what this championship would mean to me until it happened but for my family it’s just cool, “ Sauter said reflecting on both his family and the family of long time friend and crew chief Joe Shear Jr as both come from a long line of racing lineage, “ My dad raced for forty years so it’s just cool. I grew up in a racing family and went to so many race tracks throughout the Midwest and to be a champion in NASCAR in one of the three top divisions I hope that is something the family can enjoy.”
“Me and Johnny have been together for years and our families have been together for years and we’ve raced each other and won together, “Shear Jr. agreed, “ We just became best friends and worked really hard and were determined and I’m almost lost for words. This is really huge and special.”
In accepting the owner’s championship on behalf of the race winner Byron, team owner Kyle Busch said the season in which his best performing driver won seven times as a rookie but fell out of contention for the driver’s championship was frustrating yet rewarding.
“It’s really awesome and really special. I just feel so bad for William with the way this points situation worked out this year and having him eliminated last week at Phoenix and not having an opportunity to come out here and race for the title, Busch stated, “It’s frustrating but rewarding on the same end that William (Byron) and the guys didn’t give up and executed exactly what they wanted to and set out to do which was to win an owner’s championship. “
Byron led six times for a total of 31 laps en route to the victory while Tyler Reddick used a strong late pit stop to charge to a second place finish. Sauter’s third place run earned him the championship and Kyle Larson dominated much of the race leading four times for 76 laps before fading to fourth at the end. Daniel Hemric finished fifth while Daniel Suarez took the checkered flag in sixth.
Title contender Matt Crafton spent most of the race ahead of the other three contenders before an ill handling truck dropped him to seventh place at the finish.
“We were really good at the beginning and then were terrible on the last run and came up short,” Crafton said afterward, “I kind of figured it was a matter of time as we were just really bad on that last run for whatever reason.”
Chase contender Christopher Bell finished in eighth place after mounting a challenge for the championship during the mid stages of the race and the final Chase contender, Timothy Peters finished in ninth place and Cole Custer rounded out the top ten.
“We ran out of laps for sure but I wish our night would have ended the way the race started,” Peters said, “but all in all we said in the beginning at Daytona that we wanted a shot and we had that down here and we came up a little bit short. We know what we need to do over the off season and can’t wait for Daytona.”