Austin Dillon takes Xfinity win as Busch and Keselowski collide
The Food City 300 was filled with fireworks as Austin Dillon picked up his first career win at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday
Dillon inherited the lead from Brad Keselowski on Lap 304 when the No. 22 Team Penske Ford ran out of fuel in overtime.
The No. 3 Chevy led the field to green with Kyle Larson, Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler and Brendan Gaughan in tow and held on for his eighth career NXS win.
“It was a war of attrition,” said Dillon who started fifth. “We had a pretty good car. We didn’t have the fastest but the car that won. I made a mistake in (Turn) 3 coming to the white once everybody got loose. I didn’t know which line to choose with the speedy dry.
“Just proud of these guys. Justin Alexander, it’s his first race as crew chief in the Xfinity Series and he gets a win. These short tracks have stumped me for a while. To get a win here, feels really good.”
Allgaier, Larson, Sadler and Gaughan rounded out the top-five finishers. Jeremy Clements, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Blake Koch were the only other cars to finish on the lead lap.
Plenty of contact
The race was slowed by eight cautions. Hermie Sadler and Regan Smith made contact on Lap 76. Smith was collected in a three-car incident 75 laps later involving Ryan Reed and Derrike Cope in Turn 4. As the race returned to green on Lap 160, Ty Dillon, who restarted sixth, spun off of Turn 4.
Brandon Jones received the lucky dog and became the 12th car on lead lap. Gray Gaulding, who was making his Xfinity Series debut with Roush Fenway Racing, spun in Turn 2 to trigger Caution 4 on Lap 193. Forty laps later, Wallace was responsible for Caution 5 in Turn 3.
"You’re just trying to get so much out of the car and I just got a little too high going down the straightaway and the wall sucked us in and kept us up in the loose stuff," Wallace said. "That really put us behind, but it was good to rebound to a top-10 finish."
Larson had the dominant car throughout the night. He led 200 laps — working the high-line and battling Kyle Busch and Erik Jones for most of the race. But Jones ignited the sixth caution when he made contact with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Suarez and sent the No. 19 Toyota spinning in Turn 4.
“Damn it, that was so stupid,” Jones said to his crew over the radio. Crew chief Chris Gabehart diagnosed the car as terminal. Jones, who finished 33rd, still leads the NXS Chase standings with three wins.
Keselowski and Busch have a coming together
Ross Chastain and Smith made contact in Turn 3 for the seventh caution. And with four laps remaining in the race, Keselowski, who was battling with Kyle Busch, made contact with the No. 18 Toyota on the backstretch.
“He can’t come up on me on the straightaway when I’m there,” Keselowski radioed to his spotter Joey Meier.
Busch couldn’t hold onto his car and slammed into the Turn 3 wall to bring out the eighth and final caution. Ty Dillon, who was running third at the time couldn’t not slow the No. 3 Chevy quick enough and plowed into the rear of Busch. Busch and Dillon finished 24th and 25th, respectively.
Four laps into overtime, Keselowski was forced to pit for fuel.
"What can you say? I guess it happens," said Keselowski, who ended up 12th. "We weren’t as fast as we wanted to be all weekend, but we had a lot of heart and fought as hard as we could. I was kind of playing jam car on the 18 and 42. They were really good and probably had the speed to win today.
"I was doing all I could to hold them back and just ran out there at the end. I guess we had enough gas, but running under yellow it doesn’t pick it up so it ran out and once it runs out these cars don’t have all of the fuel-injection stuff and it just stops. I guess that’s the story.”
Dillon survives the sprint to the finish
Following 10 laps under yellow, Austin Dillon executed a masterful restart over Larson for the lead and held the point by 0.277-seconds over Allgaier at the finish.
“We’ll take it anyway we can get it,” Dillon said. “Hopefully, we can do it again tomorrow night.”
Sadler extended his lead in the NXS standings by 51 points over Suarez.
“It was a ‘wreckfest’, I don’t know what to say," said Suarez, who finished 30th. "Really unfortunate. We had a very hard first half of the race and we were just pretty off with the balance. Finally kind of got it decent and we were a top-five car and then that happened. I don’t really have a lot to say.”
Tifft cleared by doctors to begin the process of returning to racing
Greg Erwin back as Penske's full-time Xfinity crew chief