Austin Dillon wins Texas Cup race, earns playoff spot

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Austin Dillon used pit strategy and strong restarts late to win Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, marking the second consecutive weekend a driver outside a playoff spot won and secured a spot in the postseason.

Dillon’s third career Cup victory snapped an 88-race winless streak. It was his first win since the 2018 Daytona 500.

Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Tyler Reddick finished second. He was followed by Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

MORE: Race results

MORE: What drivers said after the race 

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Dillon gained track position with a two-tire pit stop on Lap 307 and restarted second to Reddick, who took no tires.

“I thought more guys would do two (tires),” said Dillon’s crew chief, Justin Alexander. “I honestly was not expecting to be starting on the front row for that first restart.”

Said Dillon of Alexander deciding to change only two left-side tires on that last pit stop: “The call was the win.”

Dillon took the lead from Reddick on Lap 312 of the 334-lap race. Dillon held off the field on the final two restarts, the final one with two laps to go.

Afterward, Dillon went to the infield care center for treatment. The race was held in 90-plus degree weather and NBCSN’s coverage showed the temperature inside cars above 135 degrees. Dillon said in his winner’s interview with NBCSN: “I’m out of breath right now. I’m about to go down. I need a drink.”

Dillon said he received IVs after the race.

The race was stopped after Lap 219 for a crash that included Martin Truex Jr., Chris Buescher, Cole Custer, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Bubba Wallace, William Byron, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Preece. Cole, Truex and Buescher suffered the most damage. Kyle Busch went through the infield grass and had minor damage. Harvick and Kurt Busch each had minor fender damage. The crash started when Ryan Blaney got  loose in Turn 4 and bottled up the field as it came down the frontstretch.

“It’s always one of the most humbling sports you can be a part of,” Custer said on NBCSN about being eliminated in the crash a week after winning his first Cup race.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Richard Childress Racing went 1-2 with Austin Dillon winning and Tyler Reddick finishing second. This was RCR’s first 1-2 finish in a Cup race since 2011 at Talladega Superspeedway when Clint Bowyer won and Jeff Burton was second) … Joey Logano’s third-place finish was his best result since he won at Phoenix in March, the last Cup race before the season was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic. … Kyle Busch’s fourth-place finish was his best result since his runner-up finish at Atlanta in early June. … Aric Almirola overcame brake problems and a penalty for violating the blend line to finish 10th, marking his seventh consecutive top-10 result.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Cole Custer, who scored his first Cup win last weekend at Kentucky, was collected in the multi-car crash that brought out the red flag after Lap 219 and finished 39th in the 40-car field. … Jimmie Johnson hit the wall and then was penalized two laps for too many crew members servicing the car while it was under the Damaged Vehicle Policy.

NOTABLE: Ryan Blaney led 150 laps. He’s led at least 100 laps in a race seven times in his career but failed to win all seven of those races.

NEXT: The series races Thursday night at Kansas Speedway (coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)