MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 15, 2016) – Despite no longer being eligible to win the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Driver’s championship, William Byron has still set some pretty high goals for the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. He is still determined to make one more trip to Victory Lane this season to earn the seventh win of his rookie season. The No. 9 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team is also competing for the 2016 NCWTS Owner’s championship, which would be the fifth for KBM.
After a heartbreaking elimination from The Chase last weekend at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway, Byron was quick to replace the disappointment with anticipation for the next race. He is determined to finish his record-breaking rookie season with one more win to add to his collection of 2016 trophies. After claiming six victories this year, he is already the winningest rookie in NCWTS history. One more would just be icing on the cake.
Byron and his team are also still eligible for the 2016 NCWTS Owner’s championship, battling his KBM teammate Christopher Bell, fellow Toyota driver Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter. The driver who finishes highest among those four will take home the owner’s trophy, which would be the fifth for KBM in only seven seasons of competition. In fact, KBM has a chance at three different winners in one race Friday night. Depending on how the race plays out, Daniel Suarez could win the race, Christopher Bell could win the Driver’s championship and William Byron could win the Owner’s championship all in one night.
Byron used one of his rookie tests at Homestead in August and hopes the experience he gained will benefit him Friday night. This will be his last start in a KBM Tundra before moving on next year, and he desperately wants one more opportunity to celebrate with his team and prove that being eliminated from the Chase did not eliminate their competitiveness and desire to win.
William Byron, Driver of the No. 9 NCWTS Liberty University Tundra:
Does knowing you are not in the Championship 4 change your mindset going into the final race?
“I think a little bit knowing we have the pressure lifted off our shoulders. We can just go out there and race, but we still have a lot on the line as far as how my team wants to finish out the year and we can still win the Owner’s championship. We’ve had an awesome year, so it would be really cool to go out with a win. Hopefully we can do that.”
How much would it mean to you to get a seventh win before the season ends?
“We tried to get one last week, but to get a seventh win would really cap this year off. A win at Homestead would also give our team the Owner’s championship for KBM. Since we were eliminated from the Driver’s championship last week, it would mean a lot to my team to be able to give Kyle and Samantha (Busch) their fifth owner’s title. We’ve got an amazing team and Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) has done a fantastic job this year helping me grow as a race car driver.”
What did you learn from your test at Homestead a few months ago?
“It was really hot and muggy, so I learned a little bit about the race track and a lot about what it’s like to be in Miami in August. It’s great experience just to have a feel of the race track and a visual before you go there. Hopefully that will help us unload close to what we need to be fast.”
Rudy Fugle, Crew Chief of the No. 9 NCWTS Liberty University Tundra:
Talk about the final race of the season with William at Homestead:
“We were lucky enough with William being a rookie that we were able to test at Homestead in August. Homestead is a rhythm race track, kind of like Martinsville, but at a mile-and-a-half track. Having him learn the rhythm there, how the tires get worn out and all that stuff was great. We’re just going to go down there and put the best truck on the race track we can and we’ll give it everything we’ve got and fight all night long for that Owner’s championship and hopefully our seventh win of the season.”
William Byron’s No. 9 Liberty University Tundra:
KBM-038: The No. 9 Liberty University team will race KBM-038 for Friday’s NCWTS 200 at Homestead. This is a new Toyota Tundra.
KBM NCWTS @ Homestead-Miami Speedway
- KBM drivers have collected three wins, 216 laps led, six top-five and seven top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.9 across 13 starts at Homestead
- Owner-driver Kyle Busch scored KBM’s first win in 2010, then again in 2013 and Darrell Wallace Jr., won in 2014
- Christopher Bell will be contending for KBM’s second-consecutive driver’s championship, while Bell and Byron’s teams will both compete for KBM’s fifth Owner’s championship Friday night.
The Fugle File:
Fugle begins his third season as a crew chief at KBM and fifth overall with the team. Under his tutelage last season, Erik Jones posted three wins, five poles, 925 laps led, 11 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes en route to becoming the youngest champion in Truck Series history and the first driver to collect both the Rookie of the Year and the series title in the same year. The duo also nabbed KBM its record-breaking fourth Truck Series Owner’s championship last season, which was the second with Fugle calling the shots. In 2013, he led KBM’s No. 51 Tundra team to a series-leading six wins and an Owner’s Championship. Entering 2016, the New York native’s Truck Series drivers have totaled nine wins, six poles, 21 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes across his 44 races atop the pit box for KBM.
Fugle has one win (Busch – 2013), two top-10 finishes and his Tundras have led 62 laps in two starts as a crew chief at Homestead.