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Dillon's dominant win helps him gain points lead

June 30, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com

Austin Dillon put an exclamation point on his night by beating runner-up Kurt Busch to the finish line by 9.828 seconds. (Autostock)

SPARTA, Ky. -- In his 26th Nationwide Series start -- in his first full season in the series -- pole-sitter Austin Dillon administered an emphatic, definitive, no-doubt-about-it beating to 42 also-rans in Friday night's Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

How decisive was Dillon's first Nationwide victory?

Kentucky

Results
Pos.DriverMake
2.Kurt Busch Toyota
3.Kevin Harvick Chevrolet
4.Michael Annett Ford
5.Justin Allgaier Chevrolet

Standings

Pos.+/-DriverBehind
2.-1E. Sadler-2
3.--R. Stenhouse Jr.-23
4.--S. Hornish Jr.-33
5.+1J. Allgaier-73

Dillon led 192 of 200 laps, the most ever by a Nationwide race winner at the 1.5-mile track.

He beat runner-up Kurt Busch to the finish line by 9.828 seconds.

Dillon and seven other drivers finished on the lead lap despite a mass wave-around for a restart on Lap 150 after the second caution.

When that caution interrupted a series of green-flag pit stops, after Dillon had built a lead of more than seven seconds, he simply ran away from the field after the restart.

Just after the halfway point, on Lap 106, Dillon put Elliott Sadler, the series leader entering the race, a lap down. With his dominating win, Dillon wrested the points lead from Sadler and carries a two-point cushion to Daytona, site of a July 6 Nationwide race.

Dillon's first taste of the points lead might not last for long. His car failed post-race inspection after being ruled too low in the rear. Potential penalties -- which could include a deduction of points -- are expected to be announced early next week.

"I've never seen Austin so high and so low at the same time," team owner Richard Childress, Dillon's grandfather, said . "It was like he'd been shot."

Kentucky is a bumpy track, and running laps around the undulating surface can affect the ride heights of the cars. That's exactly what Childress believes happened to Dillon.

"We use 1,200-pound springs to keep the back end up," Childress said. "A rear jack bolt worked its way back on a rough track. It was certainly nothing intentional -- and it certainly wasn't an advantage."

Kevin Harvick, Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier completed the top five. For Annett, it was his first top-five finish in 120 Nationwide starts.

"I was loose the whole race," said Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress. "I'd just get looser and looser, and I was really driving as straight as I could not to slip the tires. I just kind of back-steered the whole race.

"That last adjustment, [crew chief Danny Stockman] got me tight enough to fire off [the corners] really good. We knew Kurt was good, but our car was just stronger."

The car Dillon drove was a black No. 3 Chevrolet, reminiscent of the car Dale Earnhardt drove for Childress until his death in the 2001 Daytona 500.

* Video: Dillon dominates in grandfather's car

"Dale would have been proud," an emotional Childress said after the race.

Busch thought he would be able to gain ground on Dillon during the final green-flag run, but it didn't work out that way.

"Austin Dillon, he was in his own zip code," Busch said. "So congratulations to him, Richard Childress, those guys. It's neat to see that kid develop. I thought we could battle with him. I expected to lose some ground to him early in the run. I expected he would be quicker than us for 20 laps.

"I thought that we would level out after 10 more, and I thought we could reel him in with 20 to go and put on a show for the fans here in Kentucky -- and he was just too strong tonight. ... He just had that car dialed in. There was nothing that we could do."

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Austin Dillon got his first career win in his 26th start.
• He is the first rookie to win since Juan Pablo Montoya (2007, Mexico City).
• Dillon is the third first-time winner of 2012 (James Buescher and Nelson Piquet Jr.).
• Dillon is the fourth first-time winner at Kentucky and first since Joey Logano in 2008.
• It was the fourth-most dominant performance by a driver getting his first win behind Dale Jarrett, who led all 150 laps in August 1986 at Orange; Morgan Shepherd, who led all but two laps in May 1982 at Hickory; and Ryan Newman, who led all but six August 2001 at Michigan.
• He led three times for 192 laps, including the final 56.
• Richard Childress Racing got its 59th career win, its second at Kentucky and third of 2012.
• It was the fifth win of 2012 and fifth win at Kentucky for Chevrolet.
• Kurt Busch (second) has top-10 finishes in nine of his 10 starts this season.
• Kevin Harvick (third) has top-10 finishes in five of his six starts in 2012.
• Michael Annett (fourth) got his best career finish and first top-five finish.
• Justin Allgaier (fifth) earned his second top-five in four starts at Kentucky. He is the only driver with top-10 finishes in all four 1.5-mile tracks this season.
• Sam Hornish Jr (sixth) has had top-10 finishes in four of the past five races.
• Brad Keselowksi (seventh) had his worst Kentucky finish in his fifth start.
• Ricky Stenhouse Jr (eighth) ended a four-race streak of finishes outside the top-10 with his 10th top-10 finish of 2012.
• Elliott Sadler (ninth) got his 11th top-10 finish this season and fell to second in points, two behind Dillon.
• The top four in points (Dillon, Sadler, Stenhouse Jr. and Hornish Jr.) are separated by 33 points.

Busch got as close as 4.1 seconds behind during the final 51-lap run, but he dropped a cylinder in the closing laps and fell back but held second place.