No one is more surprised by William Byron‘s first two wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series than William Byron.
The 18-year-old rookie, who started racing at 15, has earned two wins in four races this season. The first came at Kansas Speedway in May in his fifth start and his most recent came last week at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I’m a little bit surprised – I was surprised with the first win, how quickly it came and then I was pretty surprised last week with being able to move up the race track and try different lines,” Byron said Friday at Iowa Speedway. The series races there Saturday night.
Byron had chased down two-time champion Matt Crafton – who had older tires – in the final laps at Texas. Then with three laps to go, he fended off Rico Abreu using the high line, which has become Abreu’s trademark.
“That’s something that I don’t have a background doing that like some of these guys with Rico and Christopher (Bell) that are used to searching around on the dirt track,” Byron said. “It’s enabled our race team to try some new things.”
Now Byron is one of two drivers – the other being Crafton – who has two wins this season through seven races. The native of Charlotte, North Carolina, sits in third in the point standing behind Crafton and Timothy Peters, but is all but insured a spot in Chase at the end of the season.
Byron wasn’t comfortable thinking about the playoffs even after his Kansas win.
“I haven’t really thought about the Chase honestly before we got that second win because I didn’t want to think about the potential that there would be eight different winners or more,” Byron said. “It’s good to have that win and be able to focus on what we can do to try and win more races. I think our race team is always looked at as just trying to do the best we can each week, and as a rookie that’s your goal, is just to try and get the best finish you can each time.”
The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver is doing all this with crew chief Ryan Fugle, who is fresh off winning the Truck series title with Erik Jones. That duo won three races in 2015, but the first didn’t come until the series visited Iowa Speedway, where it returns this weekend.
While Jones didn’t win until Iowa, he had four top-five finishes in the first eight races of last season. While Byron has two wins, he has only one other top five entering Iowa.
“Going into it, obviously they won the championship last year, you would think, ‘Well, he has these expectations of oh, this kid is a rookie and what’s it going to be like?’” Byron said. “He’s really had an open mind approach to it like we are a rookie team and he’s taken me under his wing and been able to coach me each week. We have high expectations but I don’t think those expectations are a burden for me and I never look at it that way.”