JR Motorsports Race Report
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Race 14 of 33: American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway
Track Specs: .875-mile oval / 250 laps
Weather: Mostly Clear; 62 degrees
Race Winner: William Byron
William Byron led 78 laps on his way to claiming his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory on Saturday night at Iowa Speedway. Byron is now the youngest winner in track history coming in at 19 years, 6 months and 26 days. By way of his victory, Byron has now clinched his spot in the NXS playoffs. The Charlotte native remains third in the NXS championship standings, now only 57 markers behind the leader.
The Axalta/Windsor Chevrolet rolled off sixth for the 250-lap event and had advanced three positions by lap 3. When the first caution flag was shown on lap 26, Byron told the team he didn't have anything to complain about. The team elected to stay out on track and restarted third on lap 31. Byron was happy with his car and quiet on the radio until the conclusion of Stage One when he finished third. The 19-year-old radioed to the team and told them his Chevrolet was tight in the center. The team elected to come to pit road for four tires and fuel. After a fast stop by the Axalta team, Byron was set to restart from the first position.
Byron was in front of the field when the caution was shown on lap 80 for a wreck in Turn 2. Dave Elenz, crew chief, made the call to stay out on track under caution and the team restarted first. Byron's JR Motorsports teammate, Justin Allgaier, was able to get around him on the restart and move Byron back to the second position. On lap 91, Byron and Allgaier were battling for the lead once again and on lap 92, Byron re-took the lead.
The Axalta Chevrolet remained in the lead until lap 103, when the No. 20 of Christopher Bell got around Byron for the lead. The caution flag was shown on lap 114 and Byron reported that he needed help on exit. The Axalta team came to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment and restarted 10th. Byron took the green flag on lap 119 and by lap 120 had worked his way to the second position, where he would end Stage Two.
Following the conclusion of Stage Two, Byron reported that he believed the air-pressure adjustment made a big improvement on the Axalta Racing Chevrolet. The team stayed out on track and restarted from the first position on lap 130. Byron remained in the lead until lap 142, when Bell got around him for the lead. The sixth caution was shown on lap 146 and Byron reported that the Axalta machine was free on exit. Knowing the team would need tires at the end of the race, Elenz made the call to stay out on track and the team restarted second.
Byron was shuffled back on the restart and was scored in the sixth position with 66 laps remaining in the event. The Axalta Chevy was free off and the team knew they would be making adjustments on the next stop. While the majority of the field made their green-flag pit stops, the No. 9 team was waiting for the right moment to pit. That moment came on lap 219, when the caution flag was shown for an incident on the backstretch. Byron brought his car to pit road for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment under caution and restarted fourth on lap 230. Byron quickly regained the lead and maintained the lead for the next 21 laps to bring home the win for JR Motorsports. He was followed by Ryan Sieg, Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain and Dakoda Armstrong rounding out the top five.
This victory is JRM's second victory of the season and second victory at Iowa Speedway. This is Byron's first NXS victory and his eighth top-10 finish in 2017. By way of his victory, Byron is now the first driver to claim victory in both late model ranks and NXS competition for JRM. The rookie of the year contender visited victory lane in 2015 in the K&N Pro Series East at Iowa Speedway and captured the win in the Camping World Truck Series in 2016 at the track.
William Byron, driver No. 9 Axalta/Windsor Chevrolet team
"Man, this is awesome. I can't thank Mr. H (car owner, Rick Hendrick) and JR Motorsports enough for this opportunity. It is so cool to run full time in the series, it has really come full circle. I think we had a first or second-place car today. We got a little bit loose one run, but got back on cycle there at the end and was able to take off. Everyone on this Axalta Racing team has worked hard all year and I am so excited to be here in victory lane with them."
No. 9 Axalta/Windsor Chevrolet Camaro
Laps Completed (Led): 250 of 250 (78)
Points (Bonus): 57 (5)
Point Standings (from leader): 3rd (-57)