Byron Wins; Championship 4 Set

William Byron

Byron scored his fourth victory of the season and first at Phoenix. (Photo: Getty Images)

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William Byron won Saturday's Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix Raceway as the NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship 4 was set.
 
Byron scored his fourth victory of the season and first at Phoenix.
 
A two-tire stop late in the race proved to be the winning call as Byron wrestled the lead away and held it to the finish. After seeing his Truck Series hopes literally go up in smoke a year ago at Phoenix when he blew an engine, Saturday’s win provided redemption.
 
“I don’t know how we it – grinded all day,” Byron said. “It was a great job by the team and a great pit call by Dave (Elenz, crew chief). We’re so ready to go to Homestead.
 
“It got robbed from me last year here in Phoenix, so this makes up for that. Awesome job.”
 
Ryan Blaney finished second despite leading a race-high 147 laps.
 
Erik Jones, Christopher Bell and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top five.
 
“Just for some reason, I wasn’t good enough to run up there with the leaders,” Bell said. “We had a really good restart there at the end and a really good short run speed there to finish out the race. I have to get better at just raw speed here in these XFINITY cars and hopefully we’ll be able to contend for wins.”
 
Blake Koch, Cole Custer, Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon and Justin Allgaier completed the first 10 finishers.
 
Byron and his two JR Motorsports teammates Elliott Sadler and Allgaier will run for the series title next Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway with Hemric the fourth driver qualifying for the title race.
 
“That’s what the playoffs are all about.,” said Hemric, who had to battle Custer for position down the stretch. “So intense, man. I’m so proud of all these guys. Awesome pit stops all day. It kept us with a little faith in our souls the rest of the race.”
 
It was an accomplishment for the JR Motorsports trio, who had to work the race without their regular pit crews. The Hendrick Motorsports personnel flying to the race were sidelined by plane problems on Saturday morning and diverted to Arkansas leaving the organization to scramble to put together makeshift crews for their four teams.
 
Brennan Poole came into the race holding the fourth and final playoff spot. But he was involved in an early accident with rookie Caesar Bacarella and exited the race with damage to his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet ending his title hopes.
 
“I saw (Bacarella) go in and we were going to kind of go to the top to go around him and he slid up so I tried to go to the bottom,” Poole said. “Bad luck, bad circumstances. I guess I could have been a little more cautious there, but just trying to get up there to get some stage points and keep moving forward.”

In post-race inspection, Allgaier's No. 7 Chevrolet was found to have an unattached brake cooling hose, which will likely result in an L1 penalty that includes loss of his crew chief for the season finale. Any penalties will be announced early in the week.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series wraps up the 2017 season next Saturday with the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

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