At the NASCAR Camping World Truck series 2016 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, William Bryon won the EcoBoost 200, but Johnny Sauter raced to the championship crown.
Byron sailed off in the latter stages of the race, holding off Tyler Reddick for his seventh victory of the season and swan song with Kyle Busch Motorsports leaving for now. Hendrick Motorsports next season will be associated with JR Motorsports as a full-time Xfinity series driver next year. Following those two coming off turn four on the final lap was Sauter, in third place, seeing the championship title was his for the taking as he drove the GMS No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado in, clinching the team’s and Sauter’s first NASCAR championship as an organization.
“It’s not just me,” said Sauter, who started 19th after a lackluster qualifying effort. “It’s the whole team—everybody at GMS Racing. We qualified badly today, and really, I was kind of worried about it. But it felt pretty good in race trim.
“Just proud of these guys. Flawless execution on pit road tonight. (Crew chief) Joe (Shear Jr.) made great adjustments to where I could just kind of hang on. I’m not a high line guy, so I just elected to keep doing my deal and found some pretty good grip around the bottom of the racetrack.
“To be a champion… five years ago my old man was down here when I won the race. This is for him and for Joe Shear’s dad—great Midwest racers. My family’s here, my kids are here, my wife’s here. It’s just an awesome night. Proud to be champion, and we’ll do everything within our power to represent NASCAR and Camping World as best we can.”
It was just a week ago when William Byron at Phoenix was in command of the race only to see his hopes for a championship berth fade away after losing his engine, and he was out of the Chase with just 10 laps to go.
The 18-year old teenager stayed positive, saying, “We’ll get them next week,” and that he did. He drove past Reddick with 10 laps to go, pulling away by 2.175 seconds at the finish.
“It feels awesome,” said Byron, the pole-sitter, who was also named Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the series, as expected. “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.
“These guys just are awesome. 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.”
Other contenders for the inaugural Chase for the Camping World Truck championship suffered a myriad of problems, with Matt Crafton finishing seventh in the race and second in the standings; he had handling problems. Behind Crafton, Christopher Bell and Timothy Peters came home eighth and ninth to claim third and fourth, respectively, in the final series standings. Bell grazed the wall numerous times, slowing his efforts, and Peters, like Crafton, had handling problems looking for a good balance in his truck which evaded him all night.
Car owner of the No. 9 Toyota truck, driven by Byron and defending Sprint Cup champion, Kyle Busch took home the owner’s championship. It was KBM’s fourth consecutive and fifth overall title in as many years.
Johnny Sauter is the 2016 champ and now gets to defend his title starting next year at the Daytona International Speedway for the running of the NEXTERA Energy Resources 250 on Friday, February 24