This Sunday’s race from the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Austin Dillon won his first race in 88 starts dating back to the 2018 Daytona 500. It was a wild final stage with plenty of cautions, it looked as if Dillon simply had no chance with the red hot rookie, Tyler Reddick along with all-stars Kyle Busch and Joey Logano starting right behind him on three restarts but he managed to pull away on the last lap giving him his first win in over two years. Last year's winner, Kevin Harvick performed well in his 700th career start, the curse continued as he finished in 5th while no driver in NASCAR history has won this milestone. The race clocked in at 98 degrees, the hottest race so far this season with the estimated track temperature of 130-140 degrees. While some drivers favor these conditions as the racetrack becomes slick and greasy, the downfall is temperatures inside the cars can spike over 100 degrees - excruciating heat when cars don’t have built-in air conditioning.
Stage 1 & 2 - 105 Laps Each
This past Wednesday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Chase Elliott edged out Ky. Busch at the All-Star Race, but no such luck in Texas as he failed two pre-race inspections placing him at the rear. As the competition caution hit on lap 21, it was the pole sitter, Aric Almirola continuing his dominance from his Stage 1 win last week. All continued to go well for the No. 10 Ford Mustang until he committed a pass-through penalty putting him two laps down. Martin Truex Jr then took the lead but shortly ran out of gas, Ryan Blaney passed Ky. Busch on the inside and wouldn’t look back with his second stage win of the year. Rounding out the top five were Ky. Busch, Harvick, Reddick and William Byron.
It wouldn’t be long in Stage 2 before we got our first crash of the day as Jimmie Johnson lost control of his car and the No. 48 smacks hard into the wall off of turn four, he would return but during his pit stop following the crash, he was penalized for too many crew members while they worked on fixing his car. It was Denny Hamlin, Ky. Busch and Blaney all battling for the lead, Hamlin took the lead from Busch but a few laps later, Blaney made a move on the inside to give the No. 12 the lead for good. This was his second stage win of the afternoon with Logano, Hamlin, Ky. Busch and Harvick wrapped up the top five.
Stage 3 - 164 Laps
The final stage was full of drama, just two laps in Almirola hit the back of Ky. Busch, as No. 18 came down the track into the inside grass, he hit the bumper of Truex Jr, who then came up the track and smacked into the wall. The red flag was out for this jumbo wreck involving six other drivers, Chris Buesher, Matt Kenseth, Rickey Stenhouse Jr, William Byron, Ryan Preece and last week's winner, Cole Custer. After Blaney regained the lead from Hamlin, John-Hunter Nemechek lost control of his car and clipped the wall coming off Turn 2, he would return. Moments later, Ty Dillon clips the bumper of Byron and they both hit the wall and would not return. The crashes just kept coming, Blaney now well ahead of the rest of the pack by more than two seconds, lap traffic, Quin Houff hits Christopher Bell while turning onto pit road. Hey, It’s about time Houff made some noise during a race. After Blaney went for a pit stop, it was A. Dillon and Reddick as the top two with 23 laps to go. With 16 laps to go, Hamlin got to the back of Alex Bowman and both went sliding into the wall. Hamlin was involved in another crash as he lost control of No. 11 and slid into the inside grass. This was the sixth crash of the stage with mounting excitement leading to the last two laps to the finish line. With Logano on a dry spell, Ky. Busch’s substandard performance this year and Reddick a candidate for the NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award, all eager to break their losing streaks, it was the one you least expected to come out on top as Austin Dillon pulled away from his teammate, Reddick on the final lap to secure his third career win. Reddick, Logano, Ky. Busch and Harvick rounded out a wild top five.
“Not bad for a silver spoon kid.” said A. Dillon in a post race interview - well perhaps this comment was a bit cocky for a driver that has only won 3 races in 9 whopping years. Many diehard NASCAR fans were not happy with Austin Dillon, grandson of NASCAR Hall of Fame team owner Richard Childress in receiving the privilege to drive the iconic No. 3. Many including myself believe Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s number should have been retired after he tragically passed away from a crash on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
The drivers will take a short break before racing at Kentucky Motor Speedway under the lights this Thursday at 7:30 PM (ET).