Austin Dillon Wins Coca-Cola 600

Austin Dillon

"We're in the Chase. It’s awesome." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Austin Dillon used fuel mileage strategy to win his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Dillon inherited the lead from Jimmie Johnson with three laps to go and went on to score his first series win and in the process bring the iconic Richard Childress Racing No. 3 back to Victory Lane.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Dillon said. “I can’t believe it. I was just really focused on those last laps. My fiancé wrote in the car, ‘When you keep God in the first place, he will take you places you never imagined.’ And, I never imagined to be here at the 600 Victory Lane. Praise the Lord and all these guys who work so hard; and my pit crew is the best on pit road. I love it for them. We’re in the Chase. It’s awesome.”

Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the first ten finishers.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now head to Dover International Speedway next Sunday afternoon.

How Dillon Won: Dillon stretched his final fuel load 70 laps and the call by new crew chief Justin Alexander proved to be the winning move. When Johnson’s car finally ran dry with only three laps remaining, Dillon was able to race by and stay ahead the rest of the way to put his name in the NASCAR record book as a first-time Cup Series winner.

Who Had a Good Day: Dillon became the seventh driver to score a first career win in the Coca-Cola 600…Truex Jr. led 233 laps, the third straight Coca-Cola 600 he led the most laps, which tied the record with Darrell Waltrip…Kurt Busch scored his fifth straight top-10 finish at Charlotte…Erik Jones recorded his best career Cup finish in his 15th start.

Who Had a Bad Day: Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski were knocked out of the race early when they were involved in an accident. It was triggered by an engine issue on Elliott’s car leaving Keselowski nowhere to go but hard into the back-end of the Hendrick Chevrolet…Kyle Larson had to start from the rear of the field because he didn’t get through pre-qualifying inspection. But he worked his way up through the field in short order. However his night came to an end when he hit the wall on lap 292 and exited the race with his first DNF of the season.

What Else Happened: The race started under fair conditions but a thunderstorm hit the area and halfway through the second stage, the red flag came out for rain. After nearly a 90-minute delay things got back going and it appeared Truex Jr. would pick up where he left off last year with another dominating run. However the fuel strategy game took over and down the stretch the finish was in question until Dillon and Alexander prevailed with their plan.

Quotable: “Unbelievable! I just can’t stop thanking everyone, and I know my great friend Dale Earnhardt is smiling down tonight,” Richard Childress.

Notable: The last time the No. 3 won a Cup race was with Dale Earnhardt in October of the 2000 season…Dillon led only the final two laps, tied for the fewest led by a Coca-Cola 600 winner with Kevin Harvick, who led only two laps in his 2011 win also driving for RCR…Hamlin scored only his second top-five finish of 2017…The race marked the first time Furniture Row Racing had two drivers finish in the top-10 (Truex Jr., Jones).

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