From Steve Kaminski / mlive.com
MARNE, MI – William Byron was planning to make a mad dash to California late Thursday night.
Hopefully, the NASCAR Cup Series star found a bank along the way because he had a deposit to make.
Byron captured Thursday night’s Monday in the Bank 150 Super Late Model race at the Berlin Raceway, dominating most of the race on the half-mile asphalt oval. Byron led the final 129 laps and beat out Bubba Pollard by 3.669 seconds to win the race and collect the $10,000 cash prize.
Byron, who will be competing in Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma, has been moonlighting this season, hitting big Super Late Model races across the nation. Thursday’s race was the first at Berlin for the 24-year-old, Charlotte, N.C., native and his fifth Super Late Model victory.
“This is a helluva race track. It’s tough,” Byron said. “I felt like I was in trouble there firing off on the two tires (on the lap 90 restart). I thought Bubba was a little bit better. I kind of let it come to me and get my balance right.
“It was a great crowd coming out here. It is awesome to be here in Michigan. I have always watched this race and kind of wondered what the line would be like. It definitely is an interesting place. You have to do interesting things, work your feet. It was really a lot of fun.”
Thursday’s race was scheduled for Wednesday, but rain pushed it back a day. Byron was one of three NASCAR regulars in the 30-car field, and all three stuck around the extra day to race. Ty Majeski, who is racing full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, finished third. Erik Jones of Byron, who races the No. 43 GMS Petty Motorsports Chevrolet in Cup, placed 10th.
Byron has won a pair of Cup races this season in the No. 24 Rick Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, giving him four for his career. His Super Late Model sported the No. 24 and red and blue colors like his Cup car, and he went out and qualified eighth.
Byron found himself starting on the pole after fast qualifier Tyler Roahrig rolled an eight for the invert. Pollard, who started second, took the lead from Byron on the opening lap before Byron drove underneath him on lap 21 to take the lead back. Byron would lead the rest of the way.
The race was slowed by cautions on lap 2, 45 and 90. The field pitted for right-side tires on the final caution.
“When the first controlled caution came out (on lap 45), I told Dennis this is really good,” Byron said. “We struggled a little bit in practice. I was probably running the wrong line, too. I kind of figured out (turns) one and two and the car started to come to me in the long run. I knew if we kept the balance the whole race we would be in pretty good shape.”
Pollard won the Money in the Bank in 2017. He also won a feature race earlier this season at Berlin and appeared poised to win another. Pollard stalked Byron through most of the race before fading in lapped traffic over the race’s final 60-lap green flag stretch run.
“Our car was better than his, I just couldn’t get into the open and show it,” said Pollard, of Senoia, Ga. “I’m just frustrated because you have a good race car and can’t show it.
“The track was a lot different. It rained last night and it was super slick today. You couldn’t touch the gas pedal. I was free getting into three, which hurt me. I was way better than (Byron) in turns one and two. I was just too free getting into three there where I needed that little bit. This is a great race track and we will come back in August and try again.”
Majeski is seventh in the Truck Series point standings. He also was making his Berlin debut.
“We just missed a little bit,” Majeski said. “We were a little too free pretty much throughout the run. I just have to make it a little bit better, go back home and come up with a different package to bring here. But all in all, it was a good first run.
“This is a tough track. It’s a different place and takes a different mentality. We just have to work on it and come back a little better.”
Byron, Jones and Majeski all plan to return to Berlin for the Aug. 10 Battle at Berlin.
“I’m looking forward to being back here in August for the 251,” Byron said. “I am excited for that and the rest of the races. I love these race cars. They are so much fun to drive. The tires are soft.”
Money In The Bank 150 Results:
1. William Byron
2. Bubba Pollard
3. Ty Majeski
4. Brian Campbell
5. Joe Bush
6. Kyle Crump
7. Nate Walton
8. Terry Senneker
9. Tyler Roahrig
10. Erik Jones
11. Scott Thomas
12. Chase Burda
13. Derek Griffith
14. Kaden Honeycutt
15. Cole Butcher
16. Andrew Scheid
17. Derek Kneeland
18. Kevin Cremonesi
19. Austin Hull
20. Austin Thom
21. Eric White
22. Trever McCoy
23 Blake Rowe
24. Dylan Stovall
25. Austin Nason
26. Boris Jurkovic
27. Tom Thomas
28. Steve Dorer
29. Luke Morey
30. Evan Shotko
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