Coming into the night, all Austin Dillon had to do was finish 16th or better to clinch the 2011 championship. With 40 laps to go at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it was looking like that championship would be in jeopardy.
[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”241″][/media-credit]On the restart with 34 laps to go, Dillon didn’t have a good one and fell back to 15th in eight laps. His teammate Coulter had also reported seeing issues with Dillon’s right tire. Ron Hornaday also told Dillon’s team that some oil had come up on his window when Dillon passed him.
“When you get back there in that situation, your head tells you to be smart but at the same time you’re telling yourself to go because you’re close,” Dillon said. “I went as hard as I could.”
Dillon quickly put all of that behind him and moved up to the 10th position, running laps as quick as leaders, before the race was called for rain with 15 laps to go.
At the age of 21 years, 6 months and 22 days, Dillon becomes the youngest NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion in series history.
“This is a dream true,” the grandson of Richard Childress said. “The great thing is that I am a very fortunate person to have this opportunity. It was scary after that last restart. We got back up there. I thought we had a truck to win.”
This marks the first time the No. 3 has won a championship since Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001.
“The first time I got to pick a number, that was the only number I knew,” he said. “I told my grandpa let’s run it; let’s have some fun with it. I am very proud to run it.”
It also marks the first Truck Series championship for Richard Childress since winning the inaugural truck series title in 1995 with Mike Skinner.
“I’m so happy for my grandfather,” Dillon said. “It’s really helped him. He’s back in it; he’s got the heart of a 10 year old and is back in it.”
It marks Childress’ first driver’s championship since Clint Bowyer’s Nationwide Series title in 2008.
“This has got to be right up there at the top,” Childress said. “It’s so special when your whole family is involved. I remember the very first championship with Dale Earnhardt. I had the same feeling tonight watching Austin, my grandson.”
The difference at the end of the night between Dillon and Johnny Sauter was six points.
“The thing that he did was kept his truck in one piece – for a younger guy with the pressure of leading the points, I’d say that’s one thing that sticks out to me that a lot of guys probably can’t do at this stage in their careers,” Sauter commented on Dillon.
Sauter put all the pressure he could on Dillon, leading the most laps in the Ford 200, before going on to win the race.
“I’m so happy to be up here next to my best friend Joe,” Sauter said. “My guys are everything to me. They were on fire tonight. They are the reason for my year.”
Before the race was called, Denny Hamlin had made a move on Sauter to the outside, though Sauter squeezed Hamlin up. Sauter then came over the radio apologizing to Hamlin, saying it wasn’t intentional.
The win was the fourth of Sauter’s career and ThorSport’s seven victory of the season.
“I’ve always wanted to have two NASCAR wins in the same year so that was a huge accomplishment.”
Kevin Harvick would finish third in his final race as a truck owner, after locking up the owner’s championship two weeks earlier at Texas with the No. 2 truck.
“It’s been quite a run as a team,” Harvick said. “To just get the first win and be able to compete as we have, it shows the type of people behind us. To go from starting the team in 2001 to the championships with Hornaday, it’s been quite a run. If you have to go out, winning the championship would be the way to do it.”
Harvick had his own controversy during the race as he was in the middle of a dispute with James Buescher. On a restart, Harvick had a run on Buescher and tried to go under him, in which Buescher came down and blocked Harvick. Then coming on pit road, Buescher spun Harvick out after Harvick tried to pass him while on the access road.
“I was thinking in my head, ‘Don’t be Kyle Busch, don’t be Kyle Busch’,” Harvick said afterwards.
Nelson Piquet Jr. would finish fourth to finish his 10th in points in his rookie season in the truck series.
With a fifth place finish, Coulter locked up the rookie of the year title to cap off a good year for RCR.
“It’s just fantastic to win a championship and watch how hard these guys put in it,” Childress said. “To see this 3 back in victory lane with Bass Pro Shops, Ty’s success and Joey winning rookie of the year – it’s been an awesome year for RCR.”
The success of Richard Childress Racing in 2011 will definitely be talked about this off-sesaon, but don’t think the success won’t be there next year. Ty Dillon will take over Austin Dillon’s seat in the No. 3 truck and finished sixth to earn his second top-10 finish in his third Truck Series start.
“The great part about Austin and Ty is they are good kids,” Harvick said. “They’ve got their head on their shoulders right. I don’t think that will be the last Dillon that you see going through the championship circle in this truck series.
“They’ve got a good future. They’re like sponges. They listen to you and they’ve got a lot of history and their heritage.”
|Unofficial Race Results|
|Ford 200, Homestead-Miami Speedway|
|4||3||8||Nelson Piquet Jr. *||Chevrolet||40|
|5||10||22||Joey Coulter *||Chevrolet||39|
|14||13||29||Parker Kligerman *||Dodge||30|
|15||16||15||Dusty Davis *||Toyota||29|
|22||6||60||Cole Whitt *||Chevrolet||22|
|32||18||7||Miguel Paludo *||Toyota||12|
|35||31||10||Jennifer Jo Cobb||Ford||0|