Race Weekend Central

Pace Laps: Austin Dillon Steals Victory, Takuma Sato Gets Redemption at Indy

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Austin Dillon Stretches Fuel, Picks up First-Career Victory – The No. 3 car is back in Victory Lane, as Austin Dillon went the final 70 laps of the 600-mile race on a single tank of fuel.

What went from another Martin Truex Jr. invitational, dominating, yet, again another Coca-Cola 600, Dillon and Jimmie Johnson attempted to stretch their fuel to the finish to steal a victory from the Toyota camp. Leading with just over one lap left, the No. 48 car ran out of gas, handing the lead over to Dillon, who had not led a lap since the season-opening Daytona 500.

With a hard-charging Truex and Kyle Busch, Dillon stepped up his lap time on the final lap, running out of gas as the No. 3 car crossed the finish-line to win his first career race. The Richard Childress Racing crew had to push the car to Victory Lane where Dillon told his team “we are partying tonight.”

Truex led a race-high 233 laps, coming home third as Busch got by his affiliated teammate on the final lap. This is the third consecutive Coke 600 in which Truex has led the most laps, joining only Darrell Waltrip to have that feat. Since 2015, the No. 78 car has led 756 out of a total 1200 laps (63 percent) during the trio of 600-mile races, only to lose two of them due to fuel-mileage, as Carl Edwards stretched his tank two years ago.

The win all but ensures that RCR will have two cars in the playoffs for the first time since 2015. With Ryan Newman punching his ticket to a berth winning at Phoenix International Raceway in March, it’s the first time since 2011 that RCR has two separate winners in Victory Lane, when Kevin Harvick won four races and Paul Menard won the Brickyard 400, also on fuel mileage. – Dustin Albino 

Verizon IndyCar Series: Redemption for Takuma Sato – Andretti Autosport’s Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500 after a crushing defeat in the 2012 race, he got the sweet taste of redemption — and two percent milk.

Sato crashed on the final lap of the race five years ago when he tried to pass Dario Franchitti for the lead. This time, no last-minute overtake was necessary as he held off three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves.

It was a roller coaster day for Andretti organization. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, and Fernando Alonso were among the top five throughout the race, pacing the field for a combined 78 laps, but Rossi was the only one to finish the race. Hunter-Reay and Alonso suffered engine failures past the halfway mark.

Pole winner Scott Dixon had a scary moment on Lap 53 when he and Jay Howard crashed in Turn 2. Dixon’s car flipped through the air and bounced off the inside catch fence before coming to an abrupt halt. Both drivers walked away under their own power, although Dixon was later seen wearing a walking boot on his left leg.

CATANZARETI: Scott Dixon Escapes Breathtaking Crash in Indy 500

 The Verizon IndyCar Series’ next event is a dual-race weekend at The Raceway in Belle Isle in Michigan on Saturday and Sunday– John Haverlin

XFINITY Series: Ryan Blaney Cruises to First NASCAR Victory Since 2015 –For the first time since 2015, Ryan Blaney went to Victory Lane, after leading 107 laps in the XFINITY Series race at Charlotte. His dominating performances did not come as easy as it sounds.

Blaney went to the rear prior the green flag, starting from 39th. However, it took him less than 45 laps to crack the top five, finishing fourth in the opening stage of the race. It got better.

When the green flag through to begin Stage 2, Blaney passed Harvick, en route to winning his second stage of the season. That would not be the final time Harvick and he crossed paths.

Seven cautions would halt the event in the final 110 laps, five of which came with less than 40 laps to go. Blaney pushed Harvick to the front in the penultimate restart of the race, moving the No. 12 car into second for the final restart with three laps to go.

Going into Turn 3 on the final restart, Blaney took the lead and put the field in his rear view mirror. It’s Team Penske’s second win of the season, Joey Logano dominating the division at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The full-time Penske machine, the No. 22 car and Brad Keselowski are looking for its first win since November of 2015 at Texas Motor Speedway. – Dustin Albino 

Sports Cars: Land-Motorsport Screws Up Pit Stop, Benefits from Screwup  Sometimes, screwing up a pit stop can be a good thing.  With 20 minutes to go in the Zurich 24 Hours Nürburgring, the Land-Motorsport team brought their No. 29 Audi in for their final stop.  Tires were changed and data was downloaded from the car.  Sounds normal.  The routine stuff ends here.

At the Nürburgring, teams don’t use dump cans or gravity-fed fuel rigs to fuel their race cars.  Instead, they use a fuel nozzle very similar to what you and I use to fill our street cars at the local Sunoco.  The cars also have to run a mandatory fuel filler cap.  The team nearly let the car leave the pits without the cap on, which would have been a penalty had the car gone back on track without the cap on.  Brings up memories of the cartoon Rocko’s Modern Life, where your car can be towed for missing a gas cap.

Once the car was pushed back into the stall, the team fumbled around trying to get the gas cap back into place.  While this was happening, it started to rain in the pit lane.  The team then chose to take the new slicks that had just been put on off the car and replaced them with treaded rain tires.

The mess in the pits left the No. 29 Audi in third, more than two minutes behind the leader with 17 minutes remaining.  However, they had wet tires while the two cars in front of them did not.  With a 15.2-mile course, anything can happen.  Roughly half the course was soaking wet.  That allowed Kelvin van der Linde (along with teammates Connor De Phillippi, Christopher Mies and Markus Winkelhock) to erase that two-plus margin in just one lap to take the overall victory.

As you can see, the conditions were looney tunes.  Van der Linde went in the grass at one point to try to pass before thinking better of it. – Phil Allaway

About the author

Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.

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have to give the nod to Indy for being the race of the day.

Jim Russell

When NASCAR quits thinking that cars going around the track is a marketing platform and lets it go back to being an automobile race, we’ll all be a lot more interested in watching it. There was absolutely no comparison between what took place at Indianapolis and what took place in Charlotte.

Tom B

It was an exciting race for sure. Racing really recognized Memorial Day and what it means. But I felt a little bewildered seeing Sato waving the Japanese flag as he did his victory lap in the convertible. Also getting a big kiss from the 500 Queen who looked like a muslim. Yes, we are a diverse nation now. But somehow I believe if the Stars and Stripes were waved in victory at one of the F1 tracks, there would be a problem.


He’s Japanese and of course he should be able to wave his country’s flag proudly. WWII and the bombing of Pearl Harbor happened in the 1940’s. If there was a problem with him winning, then there should be a problem with him even racing in the Indy 500. The girl didn’t look Muslim to me, but who cares anyway. And if our country had a driver that could even win an F1 race, then I think you’d see a big ole American flag being waved in victory. Our problem is that we haven’t had that driver since Mario Andretti. A wee bit of a slump for an American in Victory Lane in F1.

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