All eyes were on William Byron, Scott Heckert and Austin Hill as they came into the season finale for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Dover International Speedway in a three-way battle for the championship. With qualifying getting rained out on Friday afternoon, all three drivers started the 125-lap battle one-two-three at the front of the field.
But when everything was said and done, it was the 17-year-old Byron celebrating a championship under the tech inspection tent inside the Monster Mile, and a relatively unknown driver celebrating his first ever race win.
“This feels awesome,” Byron told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We couldn’t imagine this at the beginning of the year. To get those four wins was awesome. This season has been amazing.”
Byron quickly jumped out front and showed a lot of strength early, as did Hill who stayed right behind in second. There were times when Hill appeared to have a car capable of passing Byron, but he just wasn’t able to make a move to take over the lead.
However, Hill’s quest for the championship and a third-straight win at Dover came to an end after just 36 laps when the motor on his no. 22 Ford expired.
That left Byron to fight it out for a while with his teammates of Heckert and Rico Abreu, as well as Collin Cabre who began to make his presence known at the front of the field.
Heckert started to fade just past lap 40, and Abreu and Cabre started to mount pressure on Byron for the lead.
On a restart with 58 laps on the board, Abreu and Cabre powered by Byron, shuffling the points leader back to third.
After following Abreu for almost the entire race, Cabre drove by the California driver to take over the lead on lap 68 as the field closed in on the halfway break.
Cabre powered ahead of Abreu on the next restart after the halfway break and beat Eddie MacDonald by 6.454 seconds to score his first ever NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory. The win is just the second top-five of the season for Cabre.
“I never thought that I’d win here,” said Cabre. “I don’t even know how I got it done. I knew we’d have a chance to win once I passed Austin Hill for second just prior to the caution. The thing was just really good.”
For Byron, he said he did everything he hoped to do, but he said he’d liked to have won the race after leading so many laps early.
“I kind of knew we didn’t have the car to stay up there,” Byron said. “We were aided by clean air when we were out front, but I really would have liked to get the win. But I’m just so happy with the championship and so proud of my team.”
Speed51.com will have more from the season finale for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East soon.
For an on-demand replay of today’s Race Central Live coverage powered by Speed51.com, click here: http://hometracks.nascar.com/home-tracks/race-central-live-powered-speed51com-dover_09092015
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Drive Sober 125
Dover International Speedway, Dover, Delaware
|28||04||Ronnie Bassett Jr.|