CONCORD, N.C. — Recap and audio by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Sean Gardner/Getty Images North America photo —
Two NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway this season equaled two victories from the pole by Austin Dillon.
Dillon, driver of the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, seized the lead for good on a pivotal lap 147 restart and pulled away from Joe Gibbs Racing young gun Erik Jones over the final 54 lap stretch to notch his fourth XFINITY win of the season and sweep the series’ stops at CMS.
“We’ve won most of our races from the pole, but tonight we were a little off for most of the race,” said Dillon, who led a total of 61 laps and notched his sixth career series victory by a margin of 2.809 seconds at the checkered flag. “The third run, after the green flag pit stop, we found something and we were a lot better, but we needed to get the track position back that we’d lost in that first run. On that restart where we got around Kyle (Busch), I knew that the car that could get clean air would most likely be the one that ended up winning the race tonight. I think they (Busch and Jones) got to side drafting each other and I got a run and never lifted through three and four — I just tried to run through there as hard as I could because I knew that would probably be what won us the race if I could pull it off.”
“After we got the lead, we were pretty loose that whole last run, but we were able to kind of hold Erik at the same gap behind us and make it happen. Glad to get this win and thanks to Rheem, everyone at RCR, Danny Stockman (crew chief) and all the crew for helping put it all together.”
Jones’ teammate Kyle Busch appeared to have the dominant car all night, after seizing the lead from Kasey Kahne at lap 40 in his No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota. Over the next 106 laps, Busch only gave the top spot up during a cycle of green flag pit stops at halfway, leading 102 of the total laps during that span — a span only slowed twice for debris cautions at the 49th and 142nd circuits around the race track.
That stretch allowed Busch to bypass Mark Martin on lap 116 for the most laps led by a single XFINITY driver in CMS history (1,258).
While he appeared to be well on his way to a ninth XFINITY win at Charlotte and the milestone 75th of his illustrious career, the Sprint Cup veteran was the unlucky recipient of a series of bad breaks following that second yellow that ultimately took him out of contention in the final quarter of the event.
On a restart at lap 147, Busch got a bump from Jones as the No. 20 slid up to clear him for the top spot exiting turn two. That move sent Busch lightly into the outside wall and shuffled him back to the fourth position on track. Busch then spent the next several laps dicing with Kahne for third, but just after he cleared the No. 88, Kahne game him two shots to the rear bumper in turn three — the second of which sent both cars hard into the outside turn four wall.
Kahne was able to continue with repairs and ultimately soldiered home in 12th, but Busch pulled his car behind the wall and left the track without comment.
Kahne, however, did offer his side of what happened after the race.
“Kyle got mad because he got into it with his teammate off of turn two there on the start and that shuffled him back to where I was and I’m racing to try and get by him,” Kahne said. “He started beating on my down the back and the front and then I overdrove turn three and got into him. I don’t know why he started beating on me other than I think he was frustrated because his teammate kind of used him up just a little bit and then he got away from him off of turn two.”
After that incident, the race ran green to conclusion, and though Jones tried to stay with the elder Dillon he could only watch as the Welcome, N.C. driver ran off into the Charlotte night.
“I honestly thought we had it on [the lap 147 restart], but he (Dillon) just got a really great run down the backstretch and when I tried to get him coming back down the frontstretch I didn’t have enough to clear him entering turn one,” Jones admitted. “That was the race after that — we just couldn’t get back to him.”
“Overall it was a good day for us. Second place is never fun, but it’s nice to know we were as fast as we were and it’s just fun to be here. I’m already excited for my next one in Texas.”
The effort was Jones’ fourth top five and fifth top 10 effort in eight 1.5-mile track starts this season for JGR.
“It seems like every time we get to go to a mile-and-a-half we’re always strong. That’s a product of this team. They’ve always been fast on those types of tracks and I was fortunate enough to step in the seat, learn as I go and get better and better at them. Really it’s just something I enjoy and something that fell naturally to me, so it’s just fun every time we get to do one. I’m glad I’ll get to do a couple more of them this season as well.”
Defending race winner Brad Keselowski, rookie Daniel Suarez and championship contender Regan Smith rounded out the top five finishers. Points leader Chris Buescher came home seventh and extended his leading margin to 26 points over Chase Elliott, who finished ninth.
With only three cautions for 13 laps, the race was run at a record pace of 152.027 mph, and featured seven lead changes among five different drivers.
And oh, by the way? Dillon’s victory came after a stray firework from pre-race ceremonies fell into his Chevrolet, singing the back of his firesuit.
Was it a sign of things to come?
“I was praying with my girlfriend, and I think it must have been a sign from God, telling me ‘You’re about to have a good night’ or something,” Dillon laughed.
And that he certainly did.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 17 for the Kansas Lottery 300 from Kansas Speedway.
NOTES: Dillon’s win was his fifth career on a 1.5-mile intermediate track … All five of those wins have come from the pole … The effort was his 27th top 10 in 30 such races during his NXS career … Dillon’s has an average finish of fifth across his 1.5-mile career in XFINITY competition, best among all drivers …
Audio with race winner Austin Dillon and crew chief Danny Stockman:
Audio with fourth-place finisher Daniel Suarez:
RESULTS: NASCAR XFINITY Series; Drive for the Cure 300 pres. by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina; Charlotte Motor Speedway; October 9, 2015
- Austin Dillon
- Erik Jones
- Brad Keselowski
- Daniel Suarez
- Regan Smith
- Ty Dillon
- Chris Buescher
- Darrell Wallace Jr.
- Chase Elliott
- Elliott Sadler
- Ryan Reed
- Kasey Kahne
- Brian Scott
- Ryan Sieg
- Brendan Gaughan
- Dakoda Armstrong
- Ryan Truex
- Landon Cassill
- J.J. Yeley
- Jeremy Clements
- Brennan Poole
- John Wes Townley
- Ryan Ellis
- Ross Chastain
- David Starr
- Cale Conley
- Joey Gase
- Eric McClure
- Mike Harmon
- Jimmy Weller
- Kyle Busch
- Derrike Cope
- Blake Koch
- Harrison Rhodes
- B.J. McLeod
- T.J. Bell
- Morgan Shepherd
- Josh Reaume
- Timmy Hill
- Jeff Green
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 21-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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