Austin Dillon became the first NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) driver to earn a single-season, two-race Kentucky Speedway 300-mile race sweep today by sailing his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing car beneath the checkered flag 1.059 seconds ahead of Sam Hornish Jr.’s No. 12 Penske Racing machine.
After misfiring on two previous restarts on the high line, Dillon and Crew Chief Danny Stockman Jr., made a key decision to take today’s sixth restart on the low line on Lap 167. The strategy paid off when the No. 3 exploded past the No. 12 and went on to lead the closing 50 of 200 circuits.
Dillon, who took a June 28 Feed The Children 300 victory at the speedway this season, takes his second NNS victory of the season along with his 14th top-five and 21st top-10 after leading 65 laps. He is the second series driver in track history to earn two consecutive Kentucky Speedway 300-mile victories from the pole position and has now led 257 of the past 400 NNS laps he’s race at the speedway.
"This one wasn't easy; there were a lot of good teams out here. These guys built an awesome race car. We brought the same car back (from the June victory) and we adjusted on it. I know the track and the car worked well. I got on and off pit good and that got us the lead.
“It's all about drive and how bad you want it, and we really want this championship right now. I think it’s a three-man race between myself, Stenhouse Jr., and Elliott. It’s going to go down to the wire,” Dillon said.
He will enter the Sept. 29 Dover International Speedway race ranked third in the series championship standings, sitting 19 points behind his leading teammate Elliott Sadler.
Sadler registered his 12th top-five and 20th top-10 finish of season with a fifth-place effort after qualifying eighth and leading a race-best 93 laps. He has earned four top-five and five top-10 finishes in his past six series outings and takes over the top spot in the standings from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
“We just lost power steering. Nobody could touch us today we were so freaking fast, but about 10 laps before that last green flag pit stop with about 50 laps to go, I lost power steering and the car was really locking up on me. It wouldn't go left, it wouldn't go right. I couldn't correct the car, so I really had to drive it safe and straight into the corners.
“It's hard to keep up that way, but I'm proud of my guys. We got the points lead back and we'll head on to Dover,” Sadler said.
Stenhouse Jr., who led the opening 32 laps of the race, saw a promising day end with a 17th-place finish. His No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing machine sustained damage during a competition caution pit stop on Lap 33 and scraped the outside retaining wall 10 laps later.
"Our first mistake was on pit road. The No. 14 came in there and knocked the right front end, which put us back in the pack. Then, we don't handle very well, and I got loose and into the wall which cut a tire down. It was just one thing after another, but we rebounded to a 17th place finish.
“Seriously fun race, but we just made too many mistakes. We'll make it back up though, no problem. We have a strong team. Mike Kelley (Crew Chief) and the guys are doing an awesome job. We still had one of the strongest cars at the end of the race after fixing it, so we'll go get them next weekend," Stenhouse Jr., said.
Brendan Gaughan took third in the No. 33 RCR car and Drew Herring placed fourth in his series track debut in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing car.
KY Speedway PR