Austin Dillon wins rain-shortened Xfinity race at Michigan
Richard Childress Racing is a winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series again.
Austin Dillon held off RCR teammate Daniel Hemric on a restart with 37 laps remaining before a caution was displayed for rain and he was declared the winner of Saturday’s LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway.
The race was officially called after 91 of the scheduled 125 laps.
The win is the first for RCR in Xfinity since August 2016, when Michael McDowell won for RCR at Road America.
It’s the ninth career win for Dillon, the grandson of RCR owner Richard Childress, and his first at Michigan.
“This feels good. I’m glad we could put the No. 3 in Victory Lane,” Dillon said in Victory Lane. “It’s been a little bit of a slump. All of these guys have worked really to put the program back to where it needs to be.
“Wow – I was wanting that rain to come. We played a great strategy. Nick Harrison (crew chief) gets the credit for that. I just held on to the wheel.”
The race was the second consecutive in the series to utilize a new aero package that features front air ducts, restrictor-plates, larger rear spoilers and splitters previously used in 2014.
Hemric ended up a career-best second, Cole Custer was third, Ryan Reed was fourth and Paul Menard completed the top-five.
During the break between Stages 2 and 3, Elliott Sadler, Ryan Truex, Reed and Kaz Grala elected not to pit and continued out front when the race went green on Lap 66.
Grala moved into the lead on Lap 68 just as Christopher Bell spun for the second time in the race to bring out the caution. “Where is the rain?” Grala asked over his team radio and reports continued of rain again in the area.
The race returned to green on Lap 71 with Grala out front, followed by Sadler and Custer.
With 54 to go, Dillon – with a push from Hemric – got around both Grala and Sadler to move into the lead for the first time.
Austin Cindric wrecked on Lap 73 which brought out the caution. Sadler and Bowman also made contact on the track. The race returned to green with 50 to go with Dillon leading the way followed by Reed and Custer.
Reed grabbed the lead for the first time right after the restart. Dillon, again with a push from Hemric, moved back into the lead with 49 to go.
Ceasar Bacarella and Brandon Hightower wrecked with 46 to again place the race under caution with rain still threatening. The race returned to green with 37 to go and Dillon leading the way.
The race returned to caution shortly after the restart as the rain picked up.
Sadler led the way on a one-lap dash to claim the Stage 2 victory over Truex.
“This package has really changed the racing here,” Sadler said during the break. “We’re going to see if we can hang on.”
Reed finished third, Matt Tifft was fourth and Grala completed the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, many of the lead-lap cars elected to pit but Kevin Harvick and seven others stayed out and he took over the lead when Stage 2 went green on Lap 36.
Harvick was followed by Menard, Bowman, Hemric and Justin Allgaier. Custer, who restarted ninth, was the first of the drivers who had elected to pit. Grala had to restart from the rear of the field after his team was assessed an uncontrolled tire penalty during his pit stop.
Menard moved into the lead for the first time on Lap 37.
Alex Labbe and Bacarella got together on Lap 38 to bring out another caution. Menard continued to lead the way on the restart on Lap 42.
Bowman moved into the lead on Lap 42 as Harvick moved into the runner-up position and Menard dropped to third.
Ryan Sieg spun out in Turn 4 on Lap 45 to bring out the caution. Bowman held the lead on the restart on Lap 50.
After the restart, Harvick retook the lead with a big push from Menard as Sadler moved into third.
With five laps remaining, Matt Mills wrecked off Turn 2 which brought out a caution. Sadler stayed out and inherited the lead while several other teams pit for fuel and tires.
On the restart with one lap left in Stage 2, it was Sadler, Tifft, Dillon, Truex and Grala.
Busch held off a spirited charge by John Hunter Nemechek to take the Stage 1 victory.
Reed finished third, Custer fourth and Brandon Jones completed the top-five.
With the new rules package, the race began with the lead changing hands several times before Kyle Busch was able to cement himself in the top position to lead 13 of the first 15 laps.
Bell was running third when he spun off Turn 4 and hit the wall on Lap 17 which brought out the first caution of the race.
A handful of cars elected to pit while Busch remained on the track and held the lead on the restart on Lap 21.
With five laps remaining in the first stage, Busch led the way followed by Custer and Nemechek.
Two drivers – Allgaier (unapproved adjustments) and Chad Finchum (engine change) – had to begin the race from the rear of the field.
|13||42||John Hunter Nemechek||Chevrolet||91||4.231|
|24||78||Tommy Joe Martins||Chevrolet||91||11.177|
|31||66||Timmy Hill||Dodge||90||1 lap|
|33||52||David Starr||Chevrolet||82||9 laps|
|34||8||Caesar Bacarella||Chevrolet||79||12 laps|
|35||55||Brandon Hightower||Toyota||79||12 laps|
|36||15||Matt Mills||Chevrolet||54||37 laps|
|37||36||Alex Labbé||Chevrolet||52||39 laps|
|38||89||Morgan Shepherd||Chevrolet||34||57 laps|
|39||35||Joey Gase||Chevrolet||33||58 laps|
|40||93||Jeff Green||Chevrolet||5||86 laps |
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