JR Motorsports Race Report
November 18, 2017
JR Motorsports Race Report
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Race 33 of 33: Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval / 200 laps
Weather: Clear; 74 degrees
Race Winner: Cole Custer
Byron's Finish: 3rd
Charlotte, N.C., native William Byron, clinched the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship after scoring a third-place finish in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This marks Byron’s first national touring series championship and the second in four years for JR Motorsports. At the age of 19 years, 11 months and 20 days, Byron becomes the second-youngest driver to win a championship in any of NASCAR's top-three national touring series. Byron also captured the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title following his finish Saturday afternoon.
Byron qualified sixth for the 200-lap event on Saturday. The driver was scored in the eighth position on lap 10 and the first caution of the day was shown on lap 20. Byron radioed to the team that his Liberty University machine was free in and out of the corner. The team elected to stay out on track to maintain their position and Byron restarted ninth on lap 24. Cars with fresher tires were able to get around Byron on track, setting him up for a 12th place finish in Stage One. The driver relayed that he needed his car to turn better in the center. Crew chief Dave Elenz called Byron to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment and the team started Stage Two from the ninth position.
Two laps into the second stage, Byron had advanced four spots to the fifth position. Over the course of the next 15 laps, Byron battled with teammate Elliott Sadler for the fifth position. The 19-year-old fought hard and was able to beat Sadler to the line in the fifth position at the conclusion of Stage Two. Byron told the team that the previous adjustment helped his entry, but he still needed help in the center. Elenz called the Liberty University machine to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment under the stage-ending caution and the team restarted fifth on lap 97.
Byron advanced two positions shortly after taking the green flag for the final stage and was running in the third position on lap 125 when he reported that he needed more help in the center. Elenz radioed to the driver on lap 131 that they were about 25 laps away from pitting and he would make another adjustment. Byron made a green-flag pit stop on lap 145 for four tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment. Running in the fourth position following his green-flag pit stop, Byron was battling with Sadler once again for position and ultimately the NXS title.
Sadler got around Byron on lap 164 and the Liberty University machine was scored in fifth. Byron continued to set his sights on the No. 1 machine in front of him, making gains each lap. On lap 192, Byron was able to get around Sadler and the No. 18 of Ryan Preece. Byron would maintain his third-place running position through the end of the 300-mile event to bring home a third-place finish and the NXS driver championship.
Cole Custer won his first NXS event and was followed by Sam Hornish Jr., Byron, Tyler Reddick and Preece rounding out the top five.
William Byron's Thoughts:
"This is such an incredible feeling. I can't thank Dale (Earnhardt Jr.), Kelley (Earnhardt Miller) and Mr. Hendrick enough for giving me this opportunity and believing in me. This Liberty University team did everything they needed to do this season and it all paid off tonight. Dave (Elenz, crew chief) made great calls all afternoon, really all season. This is awesome. I am so glad that we were able to get everyone at JR Motorsports another Xfinity championship."
No. 9 Liberty University Camaro
Laps Completed (Led): 200 of 200 (0)
Points (Bonus): 34 (0)
Point Standings (from leader): 1st (+5)