Austin Dillon drove his #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to his third-career NASCAR Cup Series win Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. The win not only was his first of 2020, 18 races into the season, it was his first since the season-opening Daytona 500 in 2018.
“Not bad for a silver spoon kid, right? I’ll take that,” Dillon said. “Have to thank everyone at RCR, ECR, Bass Pro Shops. Tyler Reddick, he raced me clean.”
Dillon was treated for dehydration at the track’s infield care center after the race.
Dillon and his RCR teammate, Cup Series rookie Tyler Reddick, were on the front row for a restart that followed a caution that interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops inside the final 30 laps of the race. Dillon and Redddick remained first and second and battled for the lead in the remaining laps, including two more restarts, both for Denny Hamlin incidents.
“Yeah, I had to change it up a couple of times,” Dillon said. “Definitely had to earn it. I changed it up. I waited the second one, and I went on the last one, so it worked out for me good.”
Reddick’s runner-up finish was a career-best and gave RCR a one-two at the checkered flag.
“One-two for RCR; this has been coming,” Dillon said. We’ve had good cars all year. Justin Alexander [crew chief] and my whole crew. I got my baby Ace back home and my wife. I love them so much. I’m just so happy; thank god.”
As the teammates battled for the lead and the win in the final laps, including a two-lap, green-flag sprint the the finish resulting from Hamlin’s second incident and 10th caution of the race with five laps remaining, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch battled for third position. Logano took that spot, relegating Busch to fourth at the checkered flag.
Kevin Harvick finished fifth.
“The cars were just so bad in traffic, ours was anyway — our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang,” Harvick said. “The guys did a good job of putting us in a position and doing all the things we needed to try, because we got in a wreck, there, and had to fix the car and put tires on it, and the tires just didn’t mean anything. There were a couple of slower cars out there and no one could pass them. Just really proud of our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang guys for the day and all the fight they had in them. We got a top-five out of it. You always want to win here, but it is what it is.”
Before the final cycle of green-flag pit stops, Ryan Blaney dominated, leading a race-high 150 of the 334 laps that made up the race, including stage wins at lap 105 and lap 210. He was he race leader and Hamlin was second before the cycle. Blaney gave up the lead to pit for four tires. In an attempt to gain track position over Blaney, Hamlin took only two. When the yellow flag waved, both drivers were a lap down, because of their pit stops. Hamlin came out of the pits ahead of Blaney and was the first driver a lap down, so he got the free pass back onto the lead lap. Blaney stayed out and took the wave-around to also get bak on the lead lap.
Blaney wound up seventh at the finish. After his two late-race incidents, Hamlin wound up 20th.
Aric Almirola started on the pole and led the race early. One of his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates, Harvick, restarted next to him on the front row after a lap-20 competition caution and took the lead on the restart. Almirola and Harvick combined to lead all the laps until Almirola gave up the top position during a cycle of green-flag pit stops on lap 63.
Almirola was assessed a penalty for a blend-line violation when returning to the track from pit road. Martin Truex Jr., who was running third to Almirola and Harvick before pit stops, remained on the track too long and ran out of fuel. Both drivers eventually got back on the lead lap.
“Man, one of these days, we’ll get everything to go our way,” Almirola said. “That was my fault on the penalty, but we had such a fast car and got it back in position to compete for a win, again, before that caution came out. We’re still bringing fast Smithfield Ford Mustangs every weekend, and we learned a lot for when we come back here and compete for a championship.”
Blaney was among those who pitted during the competition caution, so he stayed out longer during the cycle after inheriting the lead. Blaney eventually stopped, again, during the cycle but was back in the lead when the cycle completed late in the opening stage on lap 95.
Busch was next to Blaney on the front row for the restart early in the second stage and took the lead from Blaney on lap 113.
After Busch restarted with the lead following a caution for Jimmie Johnson on lap 117, Blaney retook the lead on lap 126 and was back up front after another cycle of green-flag pit stops in the final 50 laps of the second stage.
After his second stage win, Blaney restarted for the final 124-lap stage as the leader with Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski alongside on the front row. Keselowski took the lead on the restart.
Hamlin also led a small handful of laps before Blaney retook the lead with under 100 laps to go.
While the Johnson caution was the only yellow flag, other than cautions for stage ends and the competition, in the first two stages, the yellow flag waved six more times in the final stage. The biggest incident was a chain-reaction, 10-car crash on lap 218 that included Truex hitting the wall and Busch running through the infield crash. Other drivers involved included William Byron, Chris Buescher, Cole Custer and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., among others.
“It was a good finish and proud of the effort for everyone on this Interstate Batteries team,” Busch said. “We came a long way today. We got a lot of damage on the front end of the car that you can’t see with the eye. Going through the grass, it killed it. I thought early on in the first stage, second stage, maybe, that we had a second-place car and, then, as the day went, we just kept getting further and further behind. Still a lot of work to do. The car didn’t drive very good at all. Just was able to get something out of nothing there at the end. Thanks to Interstate Batteries, M&Ms, Toyota, TRD, Rowdy Energy. We’ll go to Kansas and see if we can get a win there.”
Other top-10 finishers included Erik Jones in sixth, Kurt Busch in eighth, Keselowski in ninth and Almirola in 10th.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500 RESULTS