Daniel Suarez wins Truck race at Phoenix as final four is set

Daniel Suarez won the Lucas Oil 150 Camping World Truck Series Chase elimination race Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway, taking advantage when the engine of William Byron’s truck blew with Byron in the lead and just 10 laps to go.

Byron was leading at the time and had thoroughly dominated the first 140 laps of the race, leading a race-high 113 of them as he attempted to race his way into the Championship 4 Truck Series race next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Byron’s misfortune was good fortune for others, including not only Suarez but also the three other drivers who then were able to finish well enough to join Johnny Sauter to make up the foursome who will race for the title at Homestead. That trio ended up being two-time series champion Matt Crafton, Timothy Peters and Christopher Bell.

For Suarez, it was his first career win in the series after finishing second four times previously — and he wasn't about to apologize for how it finally came to pass in his No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. The victory also clinched the season's series manufacturer's title for Toyota.

“I guess it was about time to get a little bit of luck,” Suarez told FOX Sports in Victory Lane. “We had a lot of second-place finishes and this team. KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) works very hard. What a better way to clinch the Toyota manufacturer’s championship than with this victory. I’m very proud of my team, proud of Toyota and proud to be a part of this family.”

Sauter, who had won the two previous Chase races at Martinsville and Texas to lock himself into the Championship 4 at Homestead, finished second in the race to continue building positive momentum heading into the season finale. Crafton, Cameron Haley and Peters rounded out the top five, while Bell clinched his place at the Homestead table by coming home in seventh.

The two Chasers eliminated were Byron and Ben Kennedy.

It was a heartbreaking finish to what had seemed to be shaping up as a celebratory night for Byron, who owns a series-high six  victories overall this season but now has been eliminated from championship contention. Byron started from the pole after winning it earlier Friday evening and for the longest time appeared to be far and away the class of the field.

Even Suarez ultimately admitted he felt terrible for Byron, a popular 18-year-old series rookie.

“I feel very bad for Byron because he had the best truck out there and did an amazing job,” Suarez said. “He was running a perfect race and things like this happen in racing, I guess. I feel bad for him, but I’m glad at the end of the day we were able to get the win for KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), Toyota and for everyone that helps this program to be here right now.”