Austin Dillon wins at Texas in shock RCR 1-2
For the second consecutive week, the NASCAR Cup Series produced an unexpected winner.
Austin Dillon snapped an 88-race winless streak with a stunning victory Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway as Richard Childress Racing finished first and second for the first time since 2011.
Dillon, 30, held off his rookie teammate Tyler Reddick on the final two-lap dash to the finish to claim his first win of the 2020 season, third of his career and first since the 2018 season.
Just after he took the checkered flag, team owner Richard Childress, Dillon’s grandfather, came over his radio and said, “Way to go, Austin. Man, I’m proud of you – congratulations.”
Had to fight hard to hang on to the win. He passed Reddick on a restart on Lap 312 of 334 to take the lead, then held him and veterans Joey Logano and Kyle Busch twice more to secure the victory.
“Not bad for a silver spoon kid, right? I’ll take that,” Dillon quipped after getting out of his No. 3 Chevrolet. “Good strategy, good race cars, great race team and the good Lord above.
“Just stuck with it until the end. We’re in the playoffs and the (2021) All-Star Race. We didn’t make it last week and it hurt me pretty bad.
“We’ve had good race cars all year, we just haven’t been able to get track position when it counts.”
Said Reddick: “The important thing is to make sure one of our cars win. With this package, you kind of have to weigh those penalties in the back of your head.
“If you push too hard and stall your momentum, you both might lose. Austin won fair and square, hats off to the No. 3 team.”
Logano ended up third, Kyle Busch fourth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 finishers were Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney (who won the first two stages), Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, the lead-lap cars all pit with Blaney the first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 218, Blaney was followed by Keselowski (who took two tires), Denny Hamlin, Logano and Chase Elliott.
Just after starting Lap 219, Almirola got into Kyle Busch while the two were racing three-wide with Martin Truex Jr., igniting a multi-car wreck that brought out a caution.
The incident began when Blaney appeared to fall briefly off pace after drifting up the track, which produced an accordion effect through the field.
Among those also involved were William Byron, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Cole Custer, Ryan Preece, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer.
NASCAR immediately displayed the red flag to clean the track of debris. The race returned to caution after about a 12-minute delay.
The race returned to green on Lap 225 with Hamlin out front followed by Keselowski, Elliott and Blaney.
Keselowski quickly jumped out to the lead on the restart as Hamlin dropped to second.
After several laps of a side-by-side battle, Hamlin was able to reclaim the lead from Keselowski on Lap 233. Two laps later, Blaney got around Keselowski and moved into second.
Blaney drove around Hamlin and back into the lead on Lap 235.
On Lap 244, John Hunter Nemechek spun off Turn 2 and down the backstretch to bring out another caution. Several cars decided to pit but Blaney stayed on the track and in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 249.
On Lap 251, Ty Dillon went up the track and into Byron, sending both into the wall to bring out a caution.
The race returned to green on Lap 256 with Blaney out front, followed by Hamlin and Elliott.
With 50 laps remaining in the race, Blaney had built a more than 2-second lead over Hamlin while Almirola had moved into third.
On Lap 289, several drivers – including Blaney and Elliott – began a final round of green-flag stops to get new tires and enough fuel to make it to the finish of the race.
Quin Houff attempted to turn down to enter pit road in Turn 3 on Lap 305 and instead clipped Christopher Bell and Matt DiBenedetto, and then slammed into the Turn 4 wall.
The cars that had not yet completed their final green-flag pit stop got to pit under caution with Reddick first off pit road by taking fuel-only.
On the restart on Lap 312, Reddick led the way followed by Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch, Logano and Harvick. Hamlin restarted 15th and Blaney 16th as they both took the wave-around to return to the lead lap.
Austin Dillon quickly cleared Reddick on the restart to grab the lead for the first time in the race.
Hamlin and Alex Bowman got together in Turn 2 on Lap 319 to bring out the ninth caution of the race. Austin Dillon remained the leader when the race returned to green on Lap 324. Blaney restarted 11th.
After another battle with Reddick, Austin Dillon cleared again to the lead.
On Lap 329, Hamlin spun off Turn 4 and slid through the frontstretch grass for the 10th caution of the race. The restart came with two laps remaining with Austin Dillon out front followed by Reddick, Logano, Kyle Busch and Jones.
Blaney continued his dominant run in the race, cruising to a more than 5-second win over Logano to claim the Stage 2 win.
Hamlin was third, Kurt Busch fourth and Harvick rounded out the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, Blaney and Kyle Busch stayed on the track but several others elected to pit with Byron the first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 112, Blaney was followed by Kyle Busch, Jones, Hamlin and Elliott. Byron lined up ninth.
Ryan Newman pit outside his box on his stop and was assessed a 1-lap penalty by NASCAR.
After racing side-by-side for two laps, Kyle Busch finally worked his way around Blaney to retake the lead.
On Lap 117, Jimmie Johnson was running 11th and slammed the wall while exiting Turn 4 to bring out a caution.
While under the damaged vehicle policy, Johnson was assessed a 2-lap penalty for having too many crew members over the pit wall.
On the restart on Lap 122, Kyle Busch led the way followed by Blaney and Hamlin. Two laps later, Hamlin was able to get around Busch to take the lead for the first time in the race.
On Lap 127, Blaney went low on Hamlin and returned to the top spot.
With 60 laps remaining in the second stage, Blaney had built a 1.4-second lead over Logano. Hamlin ran third, Jones fourth and Kyle Busch fifth.
On Lap 158, Elliott and Byron kicked off a round of green-flag pit stops and Blaney followed one lap later, turning the lead over to Logano.
With 35 laps to go in the stage, the top nine had yet to make their final stop and Almirola held the lead.
Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 190, Blaney returned to the lead followed by Logano and Hamlin.
Blaney had built up more than a 3 second lead over Logano with 10 laps to go.
As the stage drew to a close, Truex – who ran out of fuel earlier in the race – was warned to save fuel as he might not have enough to make it to the end.
After a late round of green-flag pit stops, Blaney held off Kyle Busch to take the Stage 1 win, his second stage victory of the 2020 season.
Harvick was third, Reddick fourth and Byron rounded out the top-five.
Almirola, who started on the pole thanks to a random draw, led the first 20 laps when NASCAR displayed a caution on Lap 21 to allow teams to check tire wear.
Most of the lead-lap cars elected to pit but Almirola and Harvick were among those who stayed on the track. On the restart on Lap 26, Almirola remained out front followed by Harvick, Truex and Kyle Busch, who was first off pit road.
Johnson had to restart from the rear of the field after his team was assessed a safety violation during his pit stop.
Harvick quickly powered into the lead on the restart.
With 60 laps remaining in the first stage, Harvick maintained a small lead over Almirola with Truex third. Johnson had rebounded from his pit road penalty to run 16th.
On Lap 56, Almirola got around Harvick on the outside to retake the lead.
With 45 laps to go in the stage, Almirola had already expanded his lead to almost a second over Harvick. Johnson had advanced back 14th.
Both Harvick and Almirola made their respective first pit stops of the race on Lap 65 as Truex inherited the lead.
Almirola was penalized for a blend line violation while returning to pit road and had to serve a pass-through on pit road under green. Almirola ended up two laps down and running 34th after his penalty.
On Lap 70, Truex ran out of gas before making his stop, which turned the lead over to Kyle Busch. Blaney then quickly got around Busch on Lap 71 to take the lead for the first time in the race.
With 20 laps to go in the stage, Blaney had built a more than 2.2-second lead over Kyle Busch with Byron in third. Several drivers who had pit early in the stage began making green-flag stops to take enough fuel to reach the finish.
By Lap 95, the cycle of stops was completed and Blaney returned to the lead followed by Kyle Busch and Harvick.
Elliott had to start from the rear of the field after his No. 9 Chevrolet failed pre-race inspection twice prior to the race.
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