Dillon wins rain-shortened Xfinity race
By NOAH TRISTER
The Associated Press
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric didn’t have much time to battle for the lead after the final restart.
As long as one of them was in front when the rain came, Richard Childress Racing was going to win.
Dillon ended up beating his teammate Saturday in the rain-shortened NASCAR Xfinity race at Michigan International Speedway.
The race was delayed around three hours at the start because of the weather, and there had been a threat of more rain for a while before the race was finally called after 91 of the planned 125 laps.
Dillon, in his No. 3 Chevrolet, fought with Hemric’s No. 21 on a restart on the 89th lap, but the race went under caution again almost immediately because of the weather.
“We definitely needed that win for our Xfinity Series team,” said Dillon, a Cup Series driver who won this year’s Daytona 500. “It was great to have the 21 up there shoving me around. He had our back. If we didn’t have the strategy, the rain coming, he was going to have a great shot to win also.”
It was the ninth career Xfinity victory for Dillon, and his first in 2018.
Qualifying earlier in the day was canceled because of the weather at the 2-mile track. Kyle Busch started the race at the front based on owner points.
Like at last weekend’s Xfinity race at Pocono, NASCAR used a restrictor plate package.
“My hats are off to NASCAR for looking at different packages for our product out there,” Childress said. “Like everything, when you very first start running like this, I’m sure they’ll tweak on it a little bit, but I was impressed by how close the field was. I looked up after quite a few laps, and nobody had been lapped.”
Dillon seemed happy with the package as well.
“I think the competition is closer together, and I think there’s a lot of driver skill left in it, truthfully,” he said. “Just making the right moves, it’s a real chess match out there, and putting yourself in a good position is very key.”
Busch won the first stage, and points leader Elliott Sadler won the second. There were 10 cautions for 37 laps, including one from laps 81-88 after a multicar incident in Turn 2. The restart from that was all that was left before more bad weather arrived.
This was Hemric’s highest finish of the season. He’s been third four times. He didn’t seem too upset about the race being called when it was.
“I promise the guy that’s second is going to say they threw it way too early, and I’m that guy today,” Hemric joked. “I applaud them for saving race cars and all that stuff, and get all these guys back home to their families tonight.”
Cole Custer finished third, followed by Ryan Reed, Paul Menard and Busch.
Dillon is the 12th different winner in 13 Xfinity races this season. Cup star Brad Keselowski is the only driver to win twice.