FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Ty Dillon led 130 of the 147 laps for a dominating milestone victory at Texas, while Matt Crafton moved closer to a NASCAR Truck Series season championship with another top-10 finish.
Dillon drove the No. 3 Chevrolet to its 100th NASCAR victory across the sanctioning body’s three main series, including the late Dale Earnhardt in Cup races. Dillon was greeted in Victory Lane on Friday night by Richard Childress, his grandfather and truck owner.
“It’s great. To have my grandson to win the 100th race with the No. 3, with Dale Earnhardt, and Austin and Ty, all they’ve done, it’s very, very special,” Childress said. “It’ll be a night I remember for a long time. … I know Dale Earnhardt is smiling down tonight.”
Childress had used the No. 3 regularly in the truck series. But after Earnhardt’s death in a crash at the end of the 2001 Daytona 500, Childress didn’t bring back the No. 3 full-time in a car again until Austin Dillon moved up from trucks to the Nationwide Series last year.
Crafton finished 10th and has a 46-point lead over defending series champion James Buescher with two races left. Crafton only has to finish 18th or better in the last two races to win the season title.
While describing the No. 88 Toyota as “horrendously bad” early, Crafton’s crew kept making adjustments. He was running around 19th late in the race.
“We never gave up,” Crafton said. “I wish right now we could start the race.”
Dillon’s victory came a week after Dillon spun Kevin Harvick late at Martinsville when both were racing for position. Harvick hit Dillon’s truck under caution, then drove into Dillon’s pit stall as he returned to pit road. Adam Brown, one of Dillon’s crew members threw a hammer at Harvick’s truck, and was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR.
Harvick is leaving RCR at the end of the year after 13 seasons to join Stewart-Haas Racing. He said after the race his departure was because Childress was too focused on the development of grandsons, whom he claimed were undeserving of their advancement in the organization.
Austin Dillon tweeted: “Awesome win … so proud. You showed how bad you want it!”
Ty Dillon, who Childress described as quiet but focused this week, responded in Texas with an impressive victory. He won by 2.66 seconds over Johnny Sauter on the high-banked, 1 1/2-mile track with an average speed of 145.571 mph.
“We went through a lot the last week. I think today everybody sees what happens when we put a whole race together,” Dillon said. “It means a lot to give ourselves a clean sheet, give us something new to talk about.”
Buescher finished sixth on his home track.
There will be no NASCAR sweep at Texas, where the Nationwide race is Saturday before the Sprint Cup race Sunday.
Cup regulars Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski entered all three events, but both had problems in the truck race.
Busch, who won the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races at Texas in April when there wasn’t a truck race, got something stuck on his grill early in the race and had problems with his engine overheating before it finally gave out on the 99th lap. Keselowski spun out on the 24th lap and dropped a lap then. He never made that up and finished 21st.
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