SPARTA, Ky. (AP) — William Byron didn’t know which record-setting achievement to appreciate more.
He took the lead on lap 82 and withstood several challengers to win Thursday night at Kentucky Speedway, making Kyle Busch Motorsports the winningest Camping World Truck Series team in NASCAR history.
Byron’s victory also claimed a spot in the series’ inaugural Chase for the championship this fall, giving the 18-year-old additional reasons to celebrate in a breakout season.
“It’s great to get that Chase spot and make sure we got that,” he said. “It’s exciting and I can’t wait for the Chase.”
Daniel Hemric and John H. Nemechek battled side-by-side at time down the stretch in hopes of catching Byron but neither could chase down the series points leader, who passed Timothy Peters and didn’t look back en route to KBM’s 51st career victory.
Byron led twice for 70 laps in the 225-mile race in the No. 9 Toyota for his fourth win this season and second in three starts. Nemechek finished second in a Chevy, followed by Hemric (Ford), rookie and KBM driver Christopher Bell (Toyota) and Johnny Sauter (Chevy).
Byron’s win provided consolation and satisfaction for the team owner and Sprint Cup Series champion, who finished 30th after hitting the wall following contact with Spencer Gallagher on lap 58.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Busch, whose team passed Roush Fenway Racing for the record.
“It’s been a lot trying times, it’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears by both my wife and myself and all these guys that are on this team now and all the people that have been a part of Kyle Busch Motorsports in the years past. We wouldn’t be here without all them. This is a special moment.”
For a while it seemed like the race would belong to KBM teammate Daniel Suarez after he led three times for 59 laps from the pole. He ended up finishing 11th as Byron went on to dominate another Trucks race.
That’s usually the domain of Busch, who entered the night seeking his third Kentucky win in hopes of jump-starting a weekend of triple duty. His quest took an early hit as he was penalized for having too many crew members over the wall on pit road before the spin that ended his night.
It still ended well team-wise as his three other drivers navigated the resurfaced and reconfigured 1.5 mile tri-oval to claim three of the top 11 spots.
Byron leads Matt Crafton by 13 points.
NOTES: Sprint Cup rookie of the year Brett Moffitt drove the No. 11 Toyota in place of Matt Tifft as he recovers from brain surgery but made an early exit when his truck blew an engine on lap 27.