It took over two years, but Austin Dillon returned to Victory Lane in NASCAR’s elite series.
Dillon held off teammate Tyler Reddick in a two-lap shootout Sunday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
It was Dillon’s third career win in the Cup Series and his first since the 2018 Daytona 500, ending an 88-race winless streak.
“It came down to just some restarts, not screwing up, making it happen when it counted on those restarts, getting through the gears, timing them,” Dillon said of the win. “I had some good pushing. My buddy Kurt Busch gave me a good push that first one. Joey Logano was also a lot of help down the stretch.”
With the victory, Dillon is now a virtual lock for the 2020 playoffs, which will mark his fourth appearance in NASCAR’s post-season and first since the 2018 season.
Reddick picked up a career-high second-place finish. The rookie driver led two times for a total of five laps.
Despite being outside of the playoffs, Reddick made up 25 points on his deficit with his runner-up result.
“This further cements what I really pressed to my team before starting this race,” Reddick said. “We have nine races. We have 42 points to make up.
“Hopefully we can make up more than that. Seems like we already did that one race.”
Joey Logano earned his fourth Top-5 finish of the season with his third-place effort.
“It’s not a win, especially when you come to Texas and all the fans here,” Logano said. “Thank you guys for coming out, but it’s not the win we were hoping for as I look at the fire in Victory Lane is super-cool, but it’s progress.
“We’ve had a little rough streak on these 550 [horsepower] races, so I’ll take it as a little bit of a momentum-builder.”
Defending series champion Kyle Busch finished fourth place. He has now scored eight Top-5 finishes this year but remains winless.
The two-time series champion avoided race-ending damage in a lap 218 crash, rebounding for the Top-5 result.
“Still a lot of work to do,” Busch said. “The car didn’t drive very good at all. Just was able to get something out of nothing there at the end.”
Kevin Harvick, the Fall 2019 Texas winner, rounded out the Top-5 finishers.
THROUGH THE FIELD
Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola rounded out the Top-10. Blaney led the most laps in the race (150).
Denny Hamlin, the defending O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 winner, led 11 laps but ultimately finished 20th.
Last week’s winner, Cole Custer, finished 39th after crashing out in the lap 218 melee.
Ryan Preece finished last (40th) for the third straight Cup race after his being involved in the same crash.
Kevin Harvick continues to lead the point standings (721 points). Ryan Blaney (630), Brad Keselowski (615), Joey Logano (607) and Chase Elliott (604) make up the rest of the Top-5.
The next Cup Series race is scheduled for July 23rd at Kansas Speedway. Eight races remain before the grid for the 2020 playoffs is set.
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.