CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Austin Dillon’s driving was good.
His celebration might have been even better.
Dillon reveled in his first win at his home track Saturday with head-first slide into the infield grass at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 25-year-old Dillon passed Denny Hamlin with 15 laps remaining and went on to his second Xfinity Series victory of the season.
“I stuck (the slide) pretty good,” joked Austin, a former baseball player who played in the Little League World Series.
Dillon started on the pole and had the fastest car all day, leading the first 98 laps and 163 of 200 overall.
Hamlin finished second, nearly 3 seconds behind Dillon.
Kasey Kahne was third, followed by Regan Smith and Xfinity Series regular Darrell Wallace Jr.
“I didn’t want to get out of this car (because) it drove so good,” Dillon said.
Points leader Chris Buescher was 11th, but was never in contention for the lead. He maintained a 4-point lead over Ty Dillon, who finished seventh.
It was Dillon’s fourth career series victory. He has seven top-five finishes in nine Xfinity starts this season.
Dillon also won this year at Las Vegas after leading 183 of 200 laps.
Dillon simply couldn’t be caught when his No. 33 Chevrolet had clean air.
He would regularly stretch his lead to more than four seconds during long stretches of green flag racing in the first half of the race.
“I thought it was pretty much a battle for second place all day,” Hamlin said. “He had an exceptionally strong car.”
Even Clint Bowyer, who was working as a Fox Sports analyst, seemed a little bored with Dillon extending his lead late in the race, remarking, “I don’t know about you guys, but I would like to see a caution right now.”
With 34 laps to go, Bowyer got his wish.
On a restart, things got interesting as Hamlin took the outside line and passed Dillon to take the lead for the first time and Kahne boxed out Dillon to take over second place.
“I was just messing with my grandpa, I knew it would make his heart skip a beat,” Dillon joked as he looked over at car owner Richard Childress.
Dillon didn’t flinch after falling to third.
He would pass Kahne with 23 laps to go and started to take aim at Hamlin.
He took his shot with 15 laps to go, blowing by Hamlin on the low side of the track amid lap traffic and quickly pulled away and cruised to the win. Hamline said he wanted to stay on the low line, but when lap car Peyton Sellers stayed at the bottom of the track he was forced to go high.
“When (Hamlin) went up to the top (of the track), I said, ‘Here is my shot,'” Dillon said.
Childress joked that when Dillon went to pass “I just held on to my adult beverage.”
Kyle Larson, last year’s winner, headed behind the wall midway through the race after his No. 4 Chevrolet sustained a broken rear shock mount. He finished 33rd.
It was another tough weekend for Jamie Dick when his engine blew up on turn one 48 laps into the race, causing smoke to engulf is car and sending car spinning down the track and into the wall. Dick wasn’t injured in the crash but it took some time to clean up the oil left on the track leaving the race under caution for 12 laps.
At the last race in Iowa, Dick received a scare when a tungsten weight flew out of the back of Ross Chastain’s car and punctured Dick’s front windshield, raising further safety concerns from drivers.
Brian Scott was running near the top before being penalized for speeding on pit row and being sent to the back of the field.
The top four Xfinity regulars from Saturday’s race — Wallace, Regan Smith, Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez — will battle for $100,000 in the Dash for Cash next week at Dover..
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