Dillon Burns 'Em Down in the NCWTS UNOH 225
SPARTA, Ky. - Richard Childress Racing's Ty Dillon shot to the lead of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225 with 26 laps remaining and scored his first Kentucky Speedway victory by torching a 36-truck field by 5.735 seconds.
Age 21 years and four months, Dillon becomes the youngest NCWTS race winner in track history. He charged through the field from the 22nd starting position and ties three-time NCWTS Kentucky winner Ron Hornaday Jr., for the greatest improvement by a series race winner at the track.
"To win here in Kentucky, after being here for when Austin won last year and being in Victory Lane with him, it feels nice. I guess that's three in a row for the Dillons," Ty Dillon said.
His brother Austin claimed back-to-back 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series victories from the pole position in June and September at the track last season.
Ty Dillon took the lead from Kyle Busch in the No. 51 truck with 26 laps remaining and claimed the victory by sailing the No. 3 truck beneath the checkered flag 5.735 seconds ahead of Brad Keselowski in the No. 19.
Busch took third after leading 42 circuits, defending race and two-time Kentucky NCWTS winner James Buescher grabbed fourth in the No. 31, and Ryan Blaney completed top five in the No. 29. Timothy Peters, Miguel Paludo, German Quiroga, Jeb Burton and series championship points leader Matt Crafton rounded out the top 10 for the 16th NCWTS event in track history.
"Every week, we're the fastest truck here. We should've won three or four races by now," Dillon's crew chief Marcus Richmond said.
The victory is the second of Dillon's truck series career. At the age of 21 years and four months, the Welcome, N.C., driver becomes the youngest NCWTS race winner in Kentucky Speedway history, a distinction previously belonging to Buescher since June 28, 2012.
Dillon earned his first NCWTS victory in August last season at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
After the first regularly scheduled pit stops on Lap 27 of the 150-lap tilt, Dillon and his crew got the No. 3 out quick enough to advance to ninth place. Three laps later, after the second caution period of the race that began when the transmission appeared to literally fall out of rookie Brennan Newberry's No. 24 machine, Dillon found himself in sixth.
He picked off series championship leader Matt Crafton on the restart that follwed, then grabbed fourth on Lap 41 when Max Gresham spun his No. 8 truck into the Turn 2 wall.
A third of the way through the race, Dillon had passed Buescher for third.
It wasn't until Lap 120 that Dillon was able to follow then race leader Kyle Busch into the runner-up spot.
Dillon said patience proved to be a virtue as the race wore on.
Busch grabbed the lead during the race's second caution period. His crew helped the No. 51 truck beat his rookie Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Darrell Wallace out of pit row by three seconds.
From that point, things got worse for Wallace, who started second in the No. 54 and led a race-best 54 laps. Wallace lost control of his truck and tagged the Turn 3 wall on Lap 85 while tangling with Ryan Blaney's No. 29. The contact caused enough damage to end the No. 54 team's night.
Blaney suffered a similar fate later while trying to passing Busch on Lap 119. Blaney ran out of room on the outside line and his truck skipped along the wall before Blaney backed off the throttle. The contact forced Blaney to battle handling issues the rest of the way. He earned a solid fifth-place finish and was the highest finishing UNOH 225 rookie.
As Busch’s machine became loose with each passing lap amidst changing track conditions, Dillon seized the lead with a Turn 3 pass five laps later and grew the advantage through the final stretch of the race.
"We had to be patient the whole race. The beginning and middle of the race, our truck wasn't good enough to run with those guys (Wallace, Blaney, Busch and Keselowski). We had to hang on to the top five, stay consistent and keep working on the truck
"I knew (we had a chance to win) when we took off after starting sixth on the last restart. We passed a couple of guys and the truck was handling great. I'd catch Ryan (Blaney) and Kyle (Busch) a couple of times up off the corner and I knew I had something for them, so if I kept battling and kept running consistent laps that I'd catch them.
"Then Ryan had that dust up in the corner and that gave me huge momentum. I stayed on Kyle and waited for him to make a mistake. His truck got a little loose and I was able to capitalize. From there on that thing was a bullet," Dillon said.
Keselowski scored his second straight runner-up UNOH 225 finish.
"We definitely spent a lot of time on pit road trying to get it right. We weren't far off at the end. Obviously Ty had a great truck and we did, too. It just didn't come together. I made a few mistakes and Ty did a great job. I had a lot of fun racing with Kyle there at the end, battling and trying to get up there, but Ty just drove away as we were battling on. He did a good job and congrats to him. We came up a little bit short today. We've got more races (this weekend) to get into (Kentucky’s) Victory Lane," Keselowski said.
The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion will defend his Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto parts title Saturday night and race for his second NASCAR Nationwide Series track title in tomorrow night’s Feed The Children 300. He claimed his first NNS track victory July 8, 2011.
Busch was disappointed with how his truck's handling seemed to go away as darkness rolled over the speedway.
"We tested here and it was like clockwork. At 9:15 p.m. it was loose. So, I don't know. I can't believe we messed up like that. The Toyota Care Toyota Tundra was really fast. Darrell (Wallace Jr.) was probably the best truck here until he got tore up.
"I hate it for Blaney, too. He got to my outside and I got all the way out of the gas and cranked left, and he was just dumping air on my spoiler making me tight. I got him to the fence. I mean he was racing for a win just like we are. I didn't want to do it, but it just happened that way. I just tried to finish it out and get the best finish I could," said Busch, who earned his top-three spot by fending off a Buescher's tenacious late-race pass attempt.
Buescher claimed his third straight and fourth top-five NCWTS Kentucky Speedway finish. He now owns six top-10 finishes in the series in the Bluegrass State through seven starts.
"Man, what a race. I really thought I had a third place there at the end but the 51 got me there at the end. This is a tough, tough place to race these trucks. It is so hard to pass. You basically have to slide job someone to get by them and, man, is this place rough. You really have to pick your spots and be patient. We'll take this top-five and move on," Buescher said.
The victory is Dillon's first for the season and his fifth top-10 finish. He finished third in both NCWTS races at Kentucky last year.
With a 10th-place finish, Matt Crafton increases his series track top-10 lead to 10 in his 15th start. He holds onto his championship lead and holds a 22-point advantage over Jeb Burton, who finished ninth in the No. 4.
The series moves on to a July 13 event at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
Racing continues tomorrow at the speedway with the NASCAR Nationwide Series Feed The Children 300.
- KYS -
- Mike Schmaltz contributed to this story