CONCORD, N.C.— In a race that was dominated by Martin Truex, Jr., it was Austin Dillon who made it to victory lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600 after pushing the limits in the gas tank.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I can’t believe it. I was just really focused on those last laps. My fiancé wrote in the car, ‘When you keep God in the first place, he will take you places you never imagined.’ And, I never imagined to be here at the 600 Victory Lane,” said Dillon. “Praise the Lord and all these guys who work so hard; and my pit crew is the best on pit road. I love it for them. We’re in the Chase. It’s awesome.”
This is Dillon’s first career victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. This is Dillon’s first race with crew chief, Justin Alexander, on top of the pit-box. This is his first victory in 133 races. Dillon becomes the 10th driver to score his first career victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
When many drivers were hitting pit road for tires and fuel, Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, and Joey Logano stayed out in an effort to conserve fuel and make it to the end. Johnson had the race in the bag, but ran out of fuel going down the backstretch on lap 398. Dillon was able to conserve enough fuel to score the victory. Dillon ran out of fuel right as the checkered flag fell. Dillon was able to make it back around for one victory spin.
After running towards the front for majority of the night, Kyle Busch finished in the second position. Busch was able to get out front in the opening stage of the race to score the one playoff and 10 championship points. Busch led 63 laps, but fell short of victory to finish second at Charlotte.
“This M&M’s Camry was awesome tonight. It was just super fast. I mean we had one of the fastest cars all night long and then the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was probably the fastest car. There at the end, somehow we ran him down. You know he got a straightaway out on us, but there that last 100 laps we were able to get back to him and pass him so you know that was promising for us there at the end in order to get a second-place finish, but man just so so disappointed,” said Busch. “I don’t know. We ran our own race. We did what we needed to do and it wasn’t – it wasn’t the right game. We come up short and finish second.”
After dominating majority of the race, Truex Jr was unable to catch Dillon on fresh tires. On his final march to the lead, Truex used up his tires quickly and was unable to catch Ky. Busch and A. Dillon. Truex was able to finish in the third position after leading 233 of the 400 laps. With his performance tonight, Truex was able to snag the points lead from Kyle Larson.
“That stings a little bit, but can’t say enough about the guys on the team and everybody in Denver. Everybody on this Bass Pro Toyota did a heck of a job today. We just – we missed it a little bit on our last adjustment. I think if not for that we probably could’ve gotten the 3 (Austin Dillon), said Truex. “And then lapped traffic is just so tough here. There’s a few guys out there that you don’t ever know where they’re going to be when you get to the corner and it cost you so much time trying to pass them, ultimately that’s what got us. It is what it is. Like I said, we’re proud of everybody at TRD, at Toyota, Bass Pro and all the partners. Just came up a little short tonight.”
Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Newman, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top-10.
The Coca-Cola 600 was stopped shortly after lap 143 due to a brief rain shower. The red flag lasted one hour, 36 minutes, and 59 seconds for track drying operation. The caution flew a total of nine times for 53 laps. There were 23 lead changes among 10 different drivers.
Truex assumed a five point lead over Larson. Keselowski sits in the third position 82 points behind Truex. Kevin Harvick sits fourth in points only 103 points behind Truex. Ky. Busch rounds out the top-five in points only 105 points behind Truex.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams is a trip to Dover International Speedway for the AAA 400 Driver For Autism. The race will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST.