Just one week after losing out on his first-career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory by the thinnest of margins, William Byron finally got to roll into victory lane after winning Saturday night’s American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway.
Byron grabbed the lead following a restart with 20 laps to go and led the rest of the way for his first victory in his 14th-career series start behind the wheel of the JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
Ryan Sieg came home second for his career-best finish, followed by Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain and Dakoda Armstrong.
Saturday night’s win was a vindication for Byron, who got edged at the finish line by Denny Hamlin the previous weekend at Michigan by just .012 seconds – the closest finish in Xfinity Series history.
Being on the losing end of history was a tough pill to swallow for Byron, but he shook it off and is now a winner in the Xfinity Series – and earns a spot in the Xfinity Series playoffs to boot.
“I feel it all kind of comes around in racing and last week we were so close,” said Byron. “You’ve got to have a little bit of luck to win every race that we win and I feel like we got one back for last week.”
“To get second last week kind of hurt, just because we were that close. But I feel like it gave us extra motivation, and I feel like last year the beginning of the summer was when I kind of hit my stride and I think we won back-to-back, so to now have a second and a first feels really good.”
Byron’s vindication came at the expense of Christopher Bell, who dominated the entire event only to see his chances for his first-career Xfinity go up in a shower of sparks after getting caught up in someone else’s mess with 32 laps to go.
Bell started on the pole and led a race-high 152 of the 250 laps in just his second Xfinity Series start.
Bell led flag to flag in the opening 60-lap stage and then started squaring off with Byron in the final two stages, trading the lead four times over the next 150 laps with Justin Allgaier and Brendan Gaughan mixing it up as well.
Inside of 40 laps to go, the field started to duck to pit road for their final stops of the night, putting Bell and Byron all alone out front.
On lap 219, Ryan Reed and Brennan Poole tangled on the backstretch right in front of Bell, who got caught in the right rear but Poole and driven into the outside wall. Bell was able to limp to pit road and managed to stay on the lead lap while Byron inherited the lead.
The caution right in the middle of green-flag pit stops tossed everyone’s race strategy out the window and meant that Byron had to hope his fuel held out over the extended caution period before NASCAR opened pit road.
Byron took four tires and fuel and won the race off pit road followed by Armstrong and Sieg, who lined up behind Dylan Lupton – who had elected to stay out – for a restart with 20 laps to go.
Back under green, Byron easily beat Lupton going into turn one to take over the top spot and held on through one final late-race caution flag to beat Sieg by just over a second at the line.
Byron’s win was his second-career at Iowa Speedway after winning in the Camping World Truck Series race last year and his fourth top-five finish of the season including his runner-up last week at Michigan.
“To get second last week kind of hurt, just because we were that close,” Byron said. “But I feel like it gave us extra motivation, and I feel like last year the beginning of the summer was when I kind of hit my stride and I think we won back-to-back, so to now have a second and a first feels really good.”
Ryan Sieg, of Tucker, Georgia, topped his previous career-best finish of third after holding off Reddick on the final lap to score his first top-10 finish of the season and give him a much-needed boost in the points.
”I gave (Byron) all I could give,” Sieg said. ”He was just a little stronger, a little faster. I did all I could do. It was fun racing with Tyler (Reddick) at the end. We had a little bit of a battle.”
Reddick, too, notched his career-best finish in just his sixth-career Xfinity Series start while Chastain earned his first-career top five. Armstrong’s fifth-place showing matched his career, which he scored in at this same track last July.
Series-points leader Elliott Sadler nursed his Chevrolet to an eighth-place finish on just seven cylinders, allowing him to hold onto the points lead by 25 points over Allgaier. Byron remains third in points, followed by Daniel Hemric and Reed.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Iowa Speedway – Newton, Iowa
American Ethanol E15 250 – June 24, 2017
1. (6) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 250.
2. (22) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 250.
3. (15) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 250.
4. (14) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 250.
5. (7) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 250.
6. (20) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 250.
7. (18) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 250.
8. (4) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 250.
9. (5) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 250.
10. (31) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 250.
11. (30) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 250.
12. (27) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 250.
13. (25) J.J. Yeley, Toyota, 250.
14. (32) David Starr, Chevrolet, 250.
15. (28) Dylan Lupton, Toyota, 250.
16. (1) Christopher Bell(i), Toyota, 250.
17. (26) B.J. McLeod, Chevrolet, 250.
18. (37) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 250.
19. (17) Ryan Reed, Ford, 250.
20. (21) Ben Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 249.
21. (11) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 249.
22. (9) Matt Tifft #, Toyota, 249.
23. (23) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 249.
24. (24) Cole Custer #, Ford, 249.
25. (13) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 249.
26. (16) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 249.
27. (8) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 249.
28. (38) Timmy Hill, Dodge, 247.
29. (34) Ray Black II, Chevrolet, 246.
30. (19) Spencer Gallagher #, Chevrolet, 244.
31. (2) Kyle Benjamin, Toyota, 241.
32. (12) Scott Lagasse, Jr., Chevrolet, 236.
33. (33) Dexter Bean, Chevrolet, Accident, 161.
34. (10) Ty Majeski, Ford, Accident, 143.
35. (40) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Engine, 121.
36. (29) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, Engine, 118.
37. (3) Sam Hornish, Jr., Ford, Accident, 78.
38. (39) Carl Long, Toyota, Brakes, 18.
39. (36) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Vibration, 16.
40. (35) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Electrical, 6.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 85.859 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 32 Mins, 52 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.140 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 9 for 65 laps.
Lead Changes: 11 among 6 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Bell(i) 1-64; R. Black II 65; W. Byron # 66-86; J. Allgaier 87-91; W. Byron # 92-103; C. Bell(i) 104-114; B. Gaughan 115-123; W. Byron # 124-142; C. Bell(i) 143-219; W. Byron # 220-224; D. Lupton 225-229; W. Byron # 230-250.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): C. Bell(i) 3 times for 152 laps; W. Byron # 5 times for 78 laps; B. Gaughan 1 time for 9 laps; J. Allgaier 1 time for 5 laps; D. Lupton 1 time for 5 laps; R. Black II 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 20,22,9,7,1,18,14,3,16,21
Stage #2 Top Ten: 62,9,20,1,51,2,39,7,16,28
Top 10 in Points: 1. Elliott Sadler – 502; 2. Justin Allgaier – 477 (1 Win); 3. William Byron – 445 (1 Win); 4. Daniel Hemric – 356; 5. Ryan Reed – 347 (1 Win); 6. Brennan Poole – 336; 7. Cole Custer – 322; 8. Darrell Wallace, Jr. – 321; 9. Matt Tifft – 310; 10. Michael Annett – 304.