Austin Dillon scores first Cup win with Coca-Cola 600 fuel gamble

NASCAR’s longest race again provided one of the sport’s biggest surprises.

Austin Dillon scores first Cup win with Coca-Cola 600 fuel gamble

Austin Dillon took the lead with one lap remaining when Jimmie Johnson ran out fuel and Dillon stretched his own to claim his first win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"It hasn't sunk in it," Dillon said in Victory Lane. "I was so focused on that last lap. My fiancee wrote in the car, 'When you keep God in first place, he will take you places you've never been' and I've never been here in Coca-Cola 600 Victory Lane. My pit crew was the best on pit road. I love it for them.

"We're in the Chase baby - it's awesome!  I was just trying to be patient with (Johnson), I could see him up there saving (fuel). When he ran out I went back into save mode. We ran out at the (finish) line and it gurgled all the way around and we pushed it to Victory Lane."

The last win for the No. 3 in NASCAR Cup Series was Oct. 15, 2000 with Dale Earnhardt Sr.

A total of 10 drivers have now earned their first career Cup win at Charlotte: David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Charlie Glotzbach, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, David Reutimann and Dillon.

Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who had stopped for fuel in the final laps, could not catch Dillon in time and finished second and third, respectively.

Matt Kenseth finished fourth and Denny Hamlin ended up fifth.

The win virtually assures Dillon will qualify for the NASCAR playoffs for the first time in his career.

Richard Childress Racing now has two of its three teams headed to the playoffs. Ryan Newman won earlier this season at Phoenix.

Stage 4

Few of the lead-lap cars elected to pit during the break between Stages 3 and 4 and the final 100-lap segment returned to green on Lap 307 with Hamlin leading the way, followed by Kyle Busch and Kenseth.

Busch quickly moved into the lead as Hamlin almost immediately dropped back through the field.

Danica Patrick cut a tire and hit the wall on Lap 329 to bring out the first caution of final stage. It was the second time in the race Patrick had scrubbed the wall.

During pit stops, Kyle Busch edged Truex as the first car off pit road and led the way on the restart on Lap 333. They were followed by Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Jones.

Truex quickly rocketed into the lead on the restart.

With 50 laps remaining, Truex held almost a two-second lead over fellow Toyota driver Kyle Busch. Kenseth was third, Kurt Busch fourth and Kevin Harvick had rallied from a lap down and was fifth.

With 32 laps to go, teams began their final green-flag pit stops of the race. Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Truex were among the first to make their stops.

With 25 laps remaining, it appeared a few teams would attempt to stretch their fuel to make it to the final without stopping. Among them – Johnson, Dillon, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Chris Buescher, Paul Menard and Trevor Bayne.

With 20 laps to go, Truex had moved up to fifth, but behind four others who had still not pit.

Truex moved into third with 11 laps remaining, with only Johnson and Dillon left trying to push their fuel to the finish.

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