Austin Dillon Burns it Down in Texas

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - JULY 19: Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on July 19, 2020 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Austin Dillon survived a chaotic final 22 laps and held off his Richard Childress Racing teammate in a green-white-checkered flag shootout to score his first NASCAR Cup series win in 88 races Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Dillon grabbed the lead thanks to a fortuitous set of circumstances near the end of the 500 miles that had him in second near the end of a cycle of green flag pit stops.  On lap 306 of 334, Quin Houff caused a crash as he tried to dive into pit road making contact with Christopher Bell and Matt DiBenedetto.

Dillon was among a total of 14 cars who had stayed out and were on the lead lap.  He would grab the lead on the restart on lap 312 from his RCR teammate rookie Tyler Reddick.

Dillon would survive two more cautions in the in final laps, including for Denny Hamlin who had earlier led 11 laps only to spin twice, the final one across the infield grass that set up the green-white-checkered flag finish that Dillon won beating Reddick across the line by .149  seconds.  It was the first 1-2 finish for RCR since 2011.

“Yeah, I had to change it up a couple of times,” Dillon said. “Definitely had to earn it. I changed it up. I waited the second one and I went on the last one. So, it worked out for me good.”

Reddick, a rookie was happy with his runner-up.

“We had to catch a few breaks,” Reddick said. “Can’t ask for much more than we got there, me and my teammate on the front for the last couple restarts. He’s done this a little longer than I have and I’m a little bit rusty, haven’t been on the front row in a while.

“I just wanted it to be between us, not bring other cars into it and make sure we could fight it out,” Reddick added. “We got the restarts and just kept getting opportunities and couldn’t get it done today. But hats off to the three guys. They work hard and this gets one RCR Chevrolet into the Playoffs. We’re below the cutoff line, so we’ve got to keep fighting. If we can keep running like this, hopefully we won’t have to worry about points.”

Joey Logano who led 22 laps on the day was third followed by Kyle Busch who avoided an 11-car crash that led to a red flag on lap 220 by speeding across the grass in the infield.

Kevin Harvick who led 40 laps on the day and was one of the leaders who pitted prior to the lap 306 crash, was only able to rally back to fifth.  Erik Jones was sixth.

Ryan Blaney was the class of the field much of the day winning the first two Stages and leading a race high 150 laps. However, he was also a victim on the mis-timed pit stops and finished seventh.

“Disappointing finish for sure,” said Blaney. “Dominant car all day, especially on long runs. Really proud of that. Just unfortunate the way it ended for us.”

“I’m proud of the speed we have and I feel like we can compete with the four and the 11 and those guys who have a lot of wins this year,” he added.

Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Almirola rounded out the top 10 finishers.

The 11-car pile-up came just after the start of Stage 3 and forced an 11-minute red flag.  Polesitter Aric Almirola made contact with Busch’s No. 18 then hooked Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 19, blocking the track near the entry to Turn 1. Cole Custer, Ryan Preece, Matt Kenseth and Chris Buescher were among the others involved.

Seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson had another disappointing and ended his day with his sixth straight finish outside the top 10 after a Stage 2 scrape of the wall and a pit-road penalty sent him 11 laps behind. He finished 26th.

The Cup Series’ next race is scheduled Thursday at Kansas Speedway with live coverage on NBCSN starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

Texas Motor Speedway

Fort Worth, Texas

Sunday, July 19, 2020

1. (21)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 334.

2. (24)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 334.

3. (9)  Joey Logano, Ford, 334.

4. (4)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 334.

5. (5)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 334.

6. (23)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 334.

7. (2)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 334.

8. (3)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 334.

9. (6)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 334.

10. (1)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 334.

11. (17)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 334.

12. (8)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 334.

13. (15)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 334.

14. (14)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 334.

15. (34)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 334.

16. (36)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 334.

17. (11)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 334.

18. (22)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 334.

19. (16)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 333.

20. (7)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 333.

21. (33)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 331.

22. (28)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 331.

23. (37)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 329.

24. (35)  JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 328.

25. (29)  Gray Gaulding(i), Ford, 323.

26. (20)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 322.

27. (32)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 322.

28. (40)  Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 322.

29. (10)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 320.

30. (12)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, Accident, 319.

31. (27)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 318.

32. (31)  Joey Gase(i), Ford, 318.

33. (39)  BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 318.

34. (26)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, Accident, 295.

35. (30)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, DVP, 263.

36. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Electrical, 254.

37. (18)  William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 252.

38. (13)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 221.

39. (19)  Cole Custer #, Ford, Accident, 219.

40. (25)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, Accident, 217.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  137.292 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 38 Mins, 57 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .149 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  10 for 45 laps.

Lead Changes:  29 among 12 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Almirola 1-25;K. Harvick 26-55;A. Almirola 56-62;M. Truex Jr. 63-67;K. Busch 68;R. Blaney 69-89;E. Jones 90-94;R. Blaney 95-112;K. Busch 113-122;D. Hamlin 123-125;R. Blaney 126-159;J. Logano 160-167;E. Jones 168-169;K. Harvick 170-176;A. Almirola 177-179;M. Truex Jr. 180-189;R. Blaney 190-217;B. Keselowski 218-232;D. Hamlin 233-237;R. Blaney 238-248;D. Hamlin 249;R. Blaney 250-287;D. Hamlin 288-289;M. DiBenedetto 290;J. Logano 291-304;K. Harvick 305-307;T. Reddick # 308-311;A. Dillon 312-323;T. Reddick # 324;A. Dillon 325-334.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Ryan Blaney 6 times for 150 laps; Kevin Harvick 3 times for 40 laps; Aric Almirola 3 times for 35 laps; Joey Logano 2 times for 22 laps; Austin Dillon 2 times for 22 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 2 times for 15 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 15 laps; Denny Hamlin 4 times for 11 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 11 laps; Erik Jones 2 times for 7 laps; Tyler Reddick # 2 times for 5 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 12,18,4,8,24,1,48,88,17,19

Stage #2 Top Ten: 12,22,11,1,4,19,9,10,20,18

Greg Engle