William Byron Wins Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Closest XFINITY Series Finish (0.108 seconds) (Photo:  Don Andersen/RIS)

SPEEDWAY, IN - RIS - July 22, 2017 -

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
6th Annual Lilly Diabetes 250

19 year old William Byron overcame several challenges to win the XFINITY Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today.  In the closing phase of the race, he had to first pass Kyle Busch for the lead, which is never an easy task.  Then Byron had to trust the vibrating tire on his #9 Liberty University Chevrolet to hold out for the last 12 laps while holding off a hard charging Paul Menard for final 3 laps to win the race.  Byron said, "Over the last 15 or 20 laps, I thought the tire was going to go, but it hung on."  Byron consistently ran in the lead group of cars all afternoon and earned his 3rd XFINITY victory and 12th top 10 finish of the year.

Paul Menard finished 0.108 seconds behind the race winner.  Menard started second, and remained in the top 15 for most of the race, before reaching 2nd on Lap 96 to quickly challenge Byron for the win over the last 3 laps.  Menard said, "Man, it sucks being that close but the kid (William Byron) is really good.  I was better in (Turn) 2, 3 and 4 and he was able to carry a little bit more speed through Turn 1."

Among the key contenders and events during today's race were Justin Allgaier (#7 Breyers Chevrolet), Kyle Busch (#18 NOS Energy Drink Rowdy Toyota), Joey Lagano (#22 Discount Tire Ford), and Elliott Sadler (#1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet).  Allgaier had a strong car, and passed Busch on Lap 53 and led for 4 laps before a disastrous pit stop ended his day.  He overshot his pit, then left the pit too early, dragging the tire hose down pit road, before the unfinished tire ended his day on Lap 86.  Busch led 6 times for 44 of the 100 laps.  He relinquished the lead on Lap 82, with a possible concern about tires.  "I am not quite sure why we pitted at the end.  You can't just give up the race."  Starting 12th, Lagano quickly moved up to 3rd at Stage 1 and stayed in contention until the very end.  Lagano said, "I was a distant third.  I wanted to stay up there and give Paul (Menard) a good enough push so he could do something, and then maybe I could sneak by both of them.  That was my only hope at that point."  He added, "The package was really interesting.  You had to race really smart.  You just had to be smart on restarts and know when to race guys and when to just keep momentum.  If you started losing momentum, you lost five or six spots."Elliott Sadler was the pole winner, led 3 times for 22 laps, and won Stage 2.  After a early bad pit stop, Sadler worked his way back into the lead on Lap 82 before being passed by the eventual race winner on Lap 85.  Sadler said, "That is a lot closer racing than we have seen.  Great job by NASCAR on their package.  I really like the aero ducts; not so much on the restrictor plates so we could still have some throttle to pass with.  All in all, a great job by them.  I am proud of my team.  We got a pole, stage win, top 5 and my teammate wins.  Great day for JR Motorsports!"

This race featured a few rules changes for the race including new aeroducts and a restrictor plate, which led to uncertainty among the teams on how the cars would react.  As a result, the race featured the most lead changes for XFINITY series racing here at the Brickyard:  16 lead changes among 8 leaders (previously 9 lead changes among 6 leaders).  

Race Statistics:
   Time of Race:  1 hour, 58 minutes, 50 seconds
   Average Speed:  126.227 MPH
   Margin of Victory:  0.108 seconds

   There were 16 lead changes among 8 different leaders:  E. Sadler (1-16), K. Busch (17), M. Shepard (18), D. Hemric (19), K. Busch (20-22), W. Byron (23-31), H. Rhodes (32),   K. Busch (33-52), J. Allgaier (53-56), K. Busch (57), E. Sadler (58-60), G. Smithley (61), K. Busch (62-69), W. Byron (70), K. Busch (71-81), E. Sadler (82-84), W. Byron (85-100)

The top finishers for each manufacturer were:  Chevrolet (William Byron, 1st), Ford (Joey Logano, 3rd), Toyota (Matt Tifft, 11th).

  Elliott Sadler leads by 40 points over William Byron and by 133 over Justin Allgaier.  Race #19 on the XFINITY series schedule will be July 29, 2017 at Iowa Speedway.

John Hanna

Has been an RIS contributor for over 20 years.  John retired from the Ohio Army National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2015.

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Volume 2017, Issue 7, Posted 8:26 PM, 07.22.2017