Austin Dillon only led one lap of the 150-lap TreatMyClot.com NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Saturday, but it was the most significant lap — the last one. With the win, Dillon claimed his first win of the season and stopped a streak of consecutive victories by Kyle Busch at three. Busch finished second after leading a race-high 133 laps. Darrell Wallace Jr. finished third, Daniel Suarez fourth, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top-five.
“We had a really good NOS Energy Camry all day,” Busch’s crew chief, Chris Gayle, said. “I think Kyle and the team did a great job, led the most laps. It’s just really kind of sour right now to have that good of a car and not win the race. We, obviously, did everything right on fuel mileage; we made it past the checkered flag and we knew we would be close. Just unfortunate. I don’t know if we ran over something or if it was just wear with the left-front tire.”
With five laps remaining, Busch was the race leader with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Erik Jones and Suarez in second and third. Jones remained relatively close to Busch, while Suarez was nearly 10 seconds back. Jones, though, ran out of fuel, moving Suarez into the second position but 9.8 seconds behind his leading teammate, Busch.
Busch continued to lead at the white flag with Suarez a distant second. Busch’s left-front tire went flat in turn two, allowing Suarez to close in and temporarily take the lead. But right after taking the top spot, Suarez rand out of fuel, allowing Busch to reclaim the lead in turn three, despite running with a flat tire. Ultimately, Dillon got by both Suarez and Busch and drove on to the win.
“We were about a fourth or fifth-place car the entire race, but we kept working very hard to make the Rheem Chevrolet better,” Dillon said. “It seems like we were a little better than the No. 19 (Daniel Suarez) car on the final run. Danny Stockman (crew chief) told me before the run that we needed to save about one lap’s worth of fuel, so as soon as I felt like we had a little bit of a gap, I started saving. The No. 6 (Darrell Wallace Jr.) car was behind us, and he was keeping me pushing a little bit, there. He came to me a few times during that run, so I was saving a little bit and then picking up a little bit when I wanted to, but I felt like I saved a pretty good amount so when Stockman said I was good on fuel, I went for it at the end of the race.”
The JGR trio of Suarez, Jones and Busch started the race in the top-three positions, and Busch took command of the race by taking the lead on lap five. Throughout the first two-thirds of the race, the only driver able to pass Busch on the race track was Kyle Larson. Larson took the lead from Busch soon after a restart on lap 14, but a lap later, Busch returned to the front position. Larson ran among the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers before he scraped the wall and fell off the pace while running third just before lap 100.
In the final third of the race, Ryan Blaney looked to provide a challenge for Busch, especially in the laps that followed a caution around lap 100. Jones and Suarez both got by Blaney, though, after contact between Jones and Blaney.
Kevin Harvick finished sixth, Brendan Gaughan was seventh, Larson eighth, Brandon Jones ninth, and Justin Allgaier finished 10th.
“That was exciting, because a little bit of everything happened with tires flat, running out and cars hitting the wall,” Dillon said.