Austin Dillon emerges from ‘war of attrition’ to win Xfinity Bristol race
With five laps left in the Food City 300, Austin Dillon needed a lot of help to have a chance to win the Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The list of drivers he can send thank you cards to is short, but noteworthy: his brother Ty Dillon, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.
It was Busch who made contact with Keselowski after failing to clear the latter while going for the lead. The contact led to Busch cutting a tire and shooting up to the outside wall. Ty Dillon, running in third, had nowhere to go and slammed into the back of the No. 18.
“Ty had a heck of a race going and I actually thought he was going to be in a perfect position,” Austin Dillon told NBC Sports. “It sucks that the 18 blew a right front. It was just a war of attrition.”
That war continued under caution, where Keselowski, who hadn’t pitted with the rest of the leaders under a previous caution, ran out of gas while in the lead. That allowed Austin Dillon, who had one win (Fontana) entering the 22nd race of the year, to assume the point prior to the overtime start.
Though he preferred the lower lane, Dillon took the high lane at the suggestion of grandfather and team owner Richard Childress and spotter Andy Houston.
Then the No. 2 had to fend off Kyle Larson and a surging Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler to keep the position and score the win. Dillon only led four laps, including those under caution.
“We had a pretty good car, maybe not the fastest car, but the car that won,” the winner said. “I made a mistake in (Turn) 3 coming to the white (flag). Luckily everybody got loose like I did. I didn’t which line to choose with the speedy dry.
The top five was Austin Dillon, Justin Allgaier, Kyle Larson, Elliott Sadler and Brendan Gaughan.
HOW AUSTIN DILLON WON: Dillon assumed the lead after Brad Keselowski ran out of fuel under caution, and held off Kyle Larson and Justin Allgaier in the overtime finish.
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Larson led a race high 200 laps, but finished second after being put back in the field during pit stops. It’s his second straight third-place finish at Bristol ... Allgaier finished second, tying his season-best finish (Daytona II, Talladega) ... Brendan Gaughan finished fifth for his third top five of the year, but his first on a non-restrictor plate track ... Jeremy Clements came home sixth for his second top 10 of the year and his best finish on a non-plate track (fourth, Talladega) ... Blake Koch finished eighth for his third top 10 of the season of his career (169 starts)
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Regan Smith was involved in the first two cautions of the night, spinning from contact with Hermie Sadler on Lap 77 and then a crash with Ryan Reed on Lap 153 after Smith could not avoid Reed who was sitting in the middle of the track. Smith, making his first Xfinity start of the year, finished 11th. Reed finished 35th, 82 laps down … Ryan Sieg, the driver on the Chase bubble, finished 37th after breaking a shock mount …. Lap 194 saw Gray Gaulding, making his third Xfinity start, spin on his own out of Turn 4 and back into the outside wall. The Roush development driver finished 13th, five laps down … Erik Jones, the pole-sitter crashed with teammate Daniel Suarez on Lap 245, also collecting Brennan Poole and JJ Yeley. Jones finished 33rd with his third DNF of the season, Suarez finished 30th.
NOTABLE: Austin Dillon has only led five laps in both of his Xfinity wins this year ... Kyle Busch has led one lap in his last two Xfinity starts. He had never led fewer than 16 in his first 11 starts of the year ... Brad Keselowski led 67 laps, only the third time he’s led in 11 starts this season.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I don’t know if you can describe that (finish) or dream it out the way it happened.” - Justin Allgaier after finishing second.
NEXT: Road America 180 on Aug. 27 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN