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Kyle Benjamin Earns First NASCAR K&N East Victory at Bristol

Bristol, Tenn. — At 17 years old, making only his seventh K&N Pro Series East start, Kyle Benjamin, driver of the No. 27 Eibach Ford, raced side-by-side with William Byron, driver of the No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet, with less than 30 laps remaining.

But the pressure didn’t break him.

Benjamin was able to hold off Byron on the last restart and went to score his first career win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East taking the checkered flag in the PittLite 125 Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“It was a really tough battle,” Benjamin said of his battle with Byron. “He’s really been strong all year. I was worried about him a little bit. He seemed to be really fast on the short runs. I could pull off a little bit on the long runs. I didn’t want the race to come down to a short run.

“I was confident that if I could get in front of him on a restart that I could pull it off.”

The win was the first in seven career starts in the series and also the third different winner in as many races this season.

Benjamin, who is a Roush Fenway development driver, won by 0.910-seconds over Byron who entered the race as the most recent winner in the series at Greenville Pickens last month. Byron pinched Benjamin on the third to last restart, forcing contact between the two drivers, but Benjamin was able to escape.

“He got me on that lap 45 restart and I could never really get it back, even trying to get a jump on him,” Byron said. “That one restart (lap 97) was the best I felt like. I was able to get beside him and once I could kind of take his line away, we could kind of race side-by-side for a couple laps.

“I just couldn’t quite get him. He was too strong on the outside.”

Scott Heckert followed in third with Kaz Grala and Brandon Jones completing the top five. Eddie MacDonald, last year’s winner of this race, rebounded from a spin early in the race to finish sixth with Austin Hill, Daniel Hemric, J.J. Haley and Rico Abreu completing the top 10.

Bryon takes over the points lead by three points over Hill (128-125) with Benjamin third with 119 points. Gray Gaulding and Grala complete the top five in the standings.

  1. Kyle Benjamin
  2. William Byron
  3. Scott Heckert
  4. Kaz Grala
  5. Brandon Jones
  6. Eddie MacDonald
  7. Austin Hill
  8. Daniel Hemric
  9. J.J. Haley
  10. Rico Abreu
  11. Gray Gaulding
  12. David Garbo, Jr.
  13. Nick Drake
  14. Travis Miller
  15. Ronnie Bassett, Jr.
  16. Trey Hutchens
  17. Chad Finchum
  18. Dillon Bassett
  19. John Holleman, IV
  20. Sarah Cornett-Ching
  21. Jay Beasley
  22. Codie Rohrbaugh
  23. Chuck Buchanan, Jr.
  24. Collin Cabre
  25. Jesse Little
  26. Dalton Sargeant
  27. Kenzie Ruston
  28. Devon Amos

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