By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
William Byron went from worst to first among those competing for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship at Kansas Speedway. Byron finished fourth, best among the Playoff competitors after fighting his way through the field all day long.
Byron battled hard late in the race with his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier for position. Allgaier had the advantage over his young teammate until five laps to go. Byron, who had managed his tires took advantage of Allgaier’s fading tires, leap-frogging him for the fifth position.
Contact between Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Erik Jones, and eventual Kansas Lottery 300 race winner Christopher Bell, resulted in Jones limping around the track with a cut right front tire. This advanced everyone by one position, putting Byron in fourth.
For Byron, it was a quick fight to climb from 40th to 13th in the No. 9 Vannoy Construction Chevrolet Camaro by the end of Stage 1. He continued to push forward, ending Stage 2 in sixth after a restart with about 10 laps to go in the stage. Although Byron qualified sixth, his JR Motorsports crew were forced to make unapproved adjustments, sending him to the rear of the field prior to the start. Twice on his way through the field, Byron bounced off the outside wall. Luckily, the damage was minimal.
Byron admitted that his charge forward was a bit wild,
“It was pretty crazy, running the wall. Coming from the back, the air is just bad back there, especially trying to pass a lot of cars at once. We just got caught in a couple of tight squeezes, but we rebounded in the second stage. We had a couple good runs there, but we just couldn’t get it to fire off on the first couple laps. We would go backwards and then be really fast after that.”
Between the first two stages, Byron’s team gained three spots on pit road. This put him inside the top-10 to begin Stage 2. Another call by Dave Elenz to stay on track late in the stage helped Byron finish the stage in sixth.
Byron credited his team with making the right calls,
“Good job to our guys to execute and get ourselves up there. That’s what we need for the next couple of races. I learned a little bit for Homestead, running against the wall. We’ll just see what we got there.”
Byron entered Kansas with the points lead. He leaves just two points behind Allgaier because of stage points. Byron has 31-points over Matt Tifft who is the first driver one the outside looking in. This was his 10th top-five and 19th top-10 finish this season.
The next for the Xfinity Series will be Texas Motor Speedway in two weeks. There, Byron started fifth and finished seventh earlier this year. Now he will look to improve his previous result at Texas as his JR Motorsports team looks to secure their spot in the Championship Four.