Dillon Saves Fuel, Wins XFINITY Thriller

Austin Dillon
Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images

Seconds after crossing the finish line .715 seconds ahead of runner-up Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon summed up Saturday's TreatMyClot.com 300 by Janssen in one short sentence.

"I'd rather be lucky than good," Dillon chortled on his team radio after ending evading Busch's last-ditch attempt to pinch the winning No. 2 Chevrolet into the outside wall at Auto Club Speedway.

And that was just the final stanza of a crazy final lap that saw: 1) Busch slow to a crawl, short on fuel; 2) Daniel Suárez take the lead from his Joe Gibbs racing teammate on the backstretch, only to run out of fuel; 3) Busch regain the lead despite cutting a left front tire on his final lap; and 4) Dillon come from a half-lap down to pass Busch as the drivers approached the finish line.

Dillon led only one lap, but it was the lap that counted.

"Well, I just had to stay focused," said Dillon, who did a masterful job of saving fuel in snapping Busch's three-race winning streak. "(My team) said (Busch) had a flat. I was worried about our fuel and stayed focused on that the whole time.

"He tried to screw me right there at the end, but it didn't work out for him, did it? I'm proud of these guys. Man, that was fun. I didn't think we had a car to do that, and we didn't, but we did what we had to do to win the race…

"Sometimes things just go your way, and today they definitely did."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] Busch, on the other hand, led 133 of the 150 laps and appeared destined to tie Sam Ard's record of four victories in as many consecutive races. In fact, Joe Gibbs Racing seemed headed for its third straight 1-2-3 finish before Erik Jones ran out of fuel on the next-to-last lap, Daniel Suárez emptied his tank a lap later, and Busch cut his tire after taking the white flag.

The victory was Dillon's first of the season, first at the two-mile track and seventh of his career.

Darrell Wallace Jr. finished third, and Suárez limped across the finish line in fourth place, maintaining a 10-point lead over fifth-place finisher Elliott Sadler in the series standings. Kevin Harvick, Brendan Gaughan, Kyle Larson, Brandon Jones and Justin Allgaier completed the top 10.

Second with two laps left, Jones came home 15th, one lap down.

After pit stops under caution on Lap 101, Suárez came up a half-lap short of his elusive first victory.

"In the whole run we were saving fuel," Suárez said. "I knew that we were one to one-and-a-half laps short. I was saving fuel. I wasn't worrying about the 20 (Jones) or 18 (Busch). I was just trying to finish the race, because I knew that we were short. I knew that the 20 was a little bit shorter than us and eventually he ran out. When he ran out I started saving more because I knew that I had more fuel than him, but not a lot.

"I was just trying to save as much as I can. I passed the 18 when he blew the left front tire in (Turns) 1 and 2, and on the exit of 2 I ran out of fuel, and on the exit of four the 2 (Dillon) and the 18 passed me back. Very unfortunate, but it's part of racing. I really think that our first victory is coming and hopefully we can get it very soon."

The pole winner for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX), Dillon will try to complete a career-first weekend sweep in the Auto Club 400.

RACE RESULTS

Pos. # Driver Make Start Laps Led Staus Points
1 2 Austin Dillon Chevy 6 150 1 Running 0
2 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 3 150 133 Running 0
3 6 Darrell Wallace Jr Ford 13 150 0 Running 38
4 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota 1 150 4 Running 38
5 1 Elliott Sadler Chevy 5 150 0 Running 36
6 88 Kevin Harvick Chevy 17 150 0 Running 0
7 62 Brendan Gaughan Chevy 15 150 2 Running 35
8 42 Kyle Larson Chevy 4 150 5 Running 0
9 33 Brandon Jones Chevy 14 150 0 Running 32
10 7 Justin Allgaier Chevy 20 150 0 Running 31
11 98 Aric Almirola Ford 16 150 3 Running 0
12 11 Blake Koch Chevy 8 150 0 Running 29
13 48 Brennan Poole Chevy 9 149 0 Running 28
14 16 Ryan Reed Ford 10 149 0 Running 27
15 20 Erik Jones Toyota 2 149 0 Running 26
16 43 Jeb Burton Ford 7 149 0 Running 25
17 3 Ty Dillon Chevy 12 149 0 Running 24
18 24 Corey Lajoie Toyota 32 149 0 Running 23
19 4 Ross Chastain Chevy 19 149 0 Running 22
20 22 Ryan Blaney Ford 11 148 0 Running 0
21 51 Jeremy Clements Chevy 18 148 0 Running 20
22 28 Dakoda Armstrong Toyota 21 148 0 Running 19
23 0 Garrett Smithley Chevy 27 148 0 Running 18
24 21 Spencer Gallagher Chevy 26 148 0 Running 0
25 01 Ryan Preece Chevy 24 148 1 Running 17
26 90 Mario Gosselin Chevy 35 147 0 Running 15
27 14 J.J. Yeley Toyota 25 147 0 Running 14
28 52 Joey Gase Chevy 31 145 0 Running 13
29 39 Ryan Sieg Chevy 23 145 0 Running 12
30 15 Todd Peck Ford 39 141 0 Running 11
31 25 Cody Ware Chevy 40 140 0 Running 10
32 74 Mike Harmon Dodge 38 139 0 Running 9
33 78 B J McLeod Ford 37 95 0 Engine 8
34 70 Derrike Cope Chevy 34 89 0 Engine 7
35 97 Harrison Rhodes Chevy 36 84 0 Engine 6
36 93 Dylan Lupton Chevy 22 56 0 Accident 5
37 07 Ray Black Jr Chevy 33 44 0 Accident 4
38 44 David Starr Toyota 29 30 0 Engine 3
39 40 Josh Wise Toyota 28 18 1 Vibration 0
40 10 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota 30 2 0 Brakes 0

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