By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Kyle Busch Motorsports Becomes the Winningest NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Team in History:
Entering the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) was already one of the top teams in the garage area. One of the few records that KBM had yet to achieve was having the most wins by a single organization in the series.
As William Byron took the checkered flag at Kentucky Speedway, he earned KBM its 51st win as an organization in the NASCAR CWTS. The record had been held by Roush Fenway Racing, and had stood since Colin Braun earned the 50th and final Truck Series victory for Roush Fenway to date.
Johnny Sauter Takes the Championship:
For Johnny Sauter, it has been a long and winding road for him to finally reach the top of the mountain. His first NASCAR National Series races were in what is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2001. Since then, Sauter has driven competitively in all three of NASCAR’s National Series.
For 2016, Sauter left ThorSport Racing for GMS Racing. After a winning the season opening race Daytona International Speedway, Sauter had locked himself into the first-ever NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase for the Championship. He would not win again until the Martinsville Chase race, locking himself into the finale at Homestead. Sauter backed that up with another win at Texas Motor Speedway a week later.
After William Byron suffered an engine failure at Phoenix, the most dominant driver all season long had been eliminated from the Chase. Sauter fought hard all night long at Homestead-Miami Speedway en-route to a third place finish, and his first NASCAR Championship.
William Byron’s First Win and Dominance:
From the start, many saw the talent and potential that William Byron has. Byron, who did not start racing professionally until the age of 14, was quick to show just how talented he was. In just his fifth start, Byron captured his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Kansas Speedway.
Byron went on to win six more times, including the season finale at Homestead. Byron broke records set over 15 years ago by Kurt Busch for most wins by a rookie in a single NASCAR CWTS season. In fact, Byron won nearly a third of the races all season long. An engine failure at Phoenix may have snatched a possible championship for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year, but he gave veterans, fellow rookies, and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers alike a run that they won’t soon forget. Byron also shocked some in the NASCAR world as it was announced that he would leave Kyle Busch Motorsports after 2016, to join JR Motorsports and Rick Hendrick in the NASCAR Xfinity Series starting in 2017.
The Finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park:
Every year there seems to be at least one race and one finish that leaves everyone in disbelief. The end of the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 250 was one of those races.
Throughout the final laps, John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Custer fought hard for control of the lead. As the duo exited the final corners, Nemechek contacted race leader Custer. As Nemechek tried to regain control, he swerved into Custer, driving him against the wall. Nemechek kept Custer pinned against the wall as the two drivers continued down the front stretch, in the grass.
After the checkered flag waved, Nemechek celebrated and then waited for the checkered flag while NASCAR sorted out the finishing order. Custer took matters into his own hands, jumped the pit wall and tackled Nemechek. Before the fight could escalate, the crew from Custer’s No. 00 HAAS Automation Chevrolet Silverado intervened and walked Custer away.
Eventually, NASCAR declared Nemechek the winner by 0.034 seconds. Nemechek’s win ultimately cost Custer a chance at the Championship.
GMS Racing’s Arrival and Rise to the Top:
GMS Racing joined that NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2013. Since then, they have slowly expanded and become more and more competitive.
2016 for GMS Racing was a ‘coming of age’ year. Prior to 2016, the organization had just one win, 13 top fives, and 29 Top 10s.
They captured the first victory of the season at Daytona with Johnny Sauter, locking one of their three full-time teams into the Chase for the Championship. This was followed by a win at Eldora Speedway with Kyle Larson.
Ben Kennedy earned his first career victory at Bristol Motor Speedway, locking a second GMS Racing truck into the Chase. Grant Enfinger also captured his first career win at Talladega Superspeedway in a GMS Racing truck.
Sauter ultimately scored two more victories and earned both his, and GMS Racing’s first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship. GMS Racing as an organization now has seven victories, 36 top fives, and 80 Top 10s.