Austin Dillon Wins the Coca-Cola 600
Austin Dillon drove the No. 3 Dow Salutes Veterans Chevrolet SS to Victory Lane Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, notching his first-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. Dillon won in dramatic fashion, having saved enough fuel to make it to the end of the grueling 600-mile race.
“It feels amazing,” Dillon said. “What an unbelievable night with an exciting finish at the end. I don’t think this has sunk in yet – that we won the Coke 600. I’m just so happy for our team. I really believed in these guys, we have everything we need to win. We proved tonight that we could get it done.”
The win marks RCR’s second Cup Series victory in 2017. Ryan Newman won earlier this season a Phoenix International Raceway in the No. 31 Grainger Chevrolet SS. Both Newman and Dillon are all but locked into the NASCAR playoffs.
“Like Austin said, it hasn’t sank in, but I didn’t really get incredibly emotional because I was still in shock, I think,” said team owner Richard Childress. “When I looked up and seen the No.3 at the top of the board, at the Coke 600, knowing my grandson was in it, how special it was for all the fans. What a special weekend here for everybody that’s gave so much to give every one of us the opportunity in this country we have. It makes it even more special.”
Crew chief Justin Alexander, who was assigned crew chief responsibilities earlier this week for the No. 3 team, recorded his first-career win as a Cup Series crew chief. Alexander and engineers Seth Chavka and Ryan Sparks worked up a fuel strategy plan in the latter part of the race and made a gutsy call in the closing laps to not pit for additional fuel. The strategy paid off.
“We knew as soon as we pitted there with, I don’t know how many, 67 or something to go, we knew we were 2.7 (laps) short,” Alexander said. “When you figure that out, you have one of two choices. You can figure out how much you need to save, how many laps you need to save, or you can run hard and hope there’s a caution comes out.”
The win marks the first time the No. 3 car has visited Victory Lane in the Cup Series since October 15, 2000, when the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove the legendary black No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet to the winner’s circle at Talladega Superspeedway.
“I know Dale was smiling down on us tonight with that big grin and bushy mustache,” Childress said. “He would be proud.”