NXS: Austin Dillon Tops Bristol XFINITY Warriors; Scores First Series Short Track Win

Jacob Seelman 0 Comments

Austin Dillon (2) held off a charging field on an overtime restart to win Friday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images for NASCAR photo)

Austin Dillon (2) held off a charging field on an overtime restart to win Friday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images for NASCAR photo)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Just like he did at Auto Club Speedway in March, Austin Dillon won Friday night’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway by coming out of nowhere.

Dillon never led a lap in regulation, but pounced in overtime after late-race leader Brad Keselowski ran out of fuel and led the final four laps en route to his eighth career NASCAR XFINITY Series win and second of the season.

In a race that was extended to 308 laps due to an overtime finish, Dillon jetted away from a late-race, three-way battle for second to notch his first-career series win on a short track.

“This whole race was a war of attrition,” Dillon said from victory lane. “We had a pretty good car … maybe not the fastest car, but it was the car that won. I’m proud of (crew chief) Justin Alexander too. This is his first win as a crew chief in our first race together, so it’s a great way to start.”

“I actually made a mistake in (turn) three coming to the white flag, and got loose because I didn’t know which line to choose from all the Speedy-Dry that was down there,” Dillon added. “Luckily, everyone else got loose like I did and it all worked out for us. These short tracks have stumped me for a while now, and to get a win here feels really good.”

For most of the night, the race looked like it would be a war between polesitter Erik Jones and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson, who led a career-high 200 laps on the night.

But Jones made contact with teammate Daniel Suarez following a restart with 60 laps to go, sending both of them spinning into turn three and collecting Brennan Poole as the trio made heavy contact.

Jones’ night ended at that point, crushing his chances at completing the Bristol sweep after winning at the concrete half-mile in April.

“I just made a mistake,” Jones admitted. “I basically turned the 19 (Suarez). It’s unfortunate, I feel bad for Daniel and I feel bad for this team and my guys. The Reser’s Camry was really good and it deserved a good finish and was probably good enough to win. I just threw it away on that restart and tried to make too much happen too quickly.”

“I was just trying to get back in line behind them before the others got there and I wasn’t clear. Just mad at myself.”

On the flip side, Larson remained in contention through the final 50 laps and gave chase to leader Brad Keselowski, who had taken the top spot via staying out from pit road on the caution flag prior to Jones’ accident. The duo raced in and out of lapped traffic for 25 laps as Larson and Kyle Busch hounded Keselowski for the lead.

Larson tried a slide job on the Team Penske driver for the lead entering turn three, but the attempt failed and he gave up second to Busch – who had started at the rear of the field due to a broken shock found after qualifying – as a result.

A caution with 19 laps to go, for a crash involving Ross Chastain and Regan Smith, bunched the field up and meant it would be game on out front … and it certainly was.

Continued on the next page…

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