MIAMI- Last year, William Byron drove his way into Gatorade Victory Lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway as the race winner in the Ford EcoBoost 200 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. On Saturday he stepped onto the podium again at the 1.5-mile oval, but this time as the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion.
The 19-year old from Charlotte captured the title by finishing third in the Ford EcoBoost 300. With less than 30 laps remaining in the 200-lap race, Byron was able to pass his JR Motorsports teammate and fellow Championship 4 contender, Elliott Sadler, who finished the race in the eighth spot. In addition, Justin Allgaier and Daniel Hemric, who also competed in the Ford EcoBoost 300 as part of the Championship 4, finished 12th and 34th, respectively.
“I don’t know that I took a breath the last 20 laps,” said Byron. “That was incredible. I just have to thank this team. This is awesome. Elliott Sadler raced me clean and we just raced hard for it. I just can’t believe this.”
The championship makes Byron the 28th driver to win the XFINITY Series title. It also makes him the second rookie and teenager to win the series championship. Ironically, it was another JR Motorsports driver who accomplished the feat – Chase Elliott in 2014. On the season, the driver of the No. 9 car accumulated a series-high four victories, 12 top-5 finishes and 22 top-10 showings, which was good enough for him to earn 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors as well.
While Byron took home the championship, it was rookie Cole Custer who captured the checkered flag in the Ford EcoBoost 300. For the 19-year-old driver of the No. 00 Ford Mustang, it was the first win of his career. Custer also led a race-high 182 laps, a new record for an XFINITY Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, breaking the previous mark of 153 by Kyle Busch in 2010.
“We knew we were going to be really good this weekend, but our Haas Automation Mustang was unreal,” said Custer. “We really wanted to have a good showing at Ford Championship Weekend. Even though we weren’t in it, we wanted to win.”
In addition, with four wins, 23 top 5s and 28 top 10s this season, Team Penske claimed the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series owner championship. It is their fourth NASCAR XFINITY Series owner championship (2013-15, 2017).
A limited number of tickets to Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 championship finale are available and can be purchased by calling (866) 409-RACE (7223) or visiting www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.
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