Sparta, KY, United States (4E Sports) – Austin Dillon squeaked past Sam Hornish Jr. to capture the inaugural Kentucky 300 Saturday at Kentucky Speedway for his second career Nationwide Series victory.
Dillon led by 65 laps, including the final 50, and edged Hornish by a mere 1.059 seconds to become the fifth pole winner to take the checkered flag in past six Nationwide Series races at Kentucky Speedway.
“We weren’t the best car, but we were able to fight, fight, fight and get out in front there at the end,” Dillon said. “When we got the chance to take the lead, I just took it.”
The performance wasn’t as dominating compared to Dillon’s first race at Kentucky Speedway in June where he led 192 of 200 laps en route to his first Nationwide Series win.
“This one wasn’t easy,” said Dillon, who became the 14th driver to get his first two wins at the same track and the second repeat winner at Kentucky in 13 races behind Joey Logano.
Dillon started at pole position but lost the lead to Stenhouse at the start. Stenhouse remained up front until a competition caution came out on lap 30.
While exiting his pit stall during the caution, Stenhouse hit Eric McClure, who was pulling into his pit. The incident resulted in Stenhouse restarting the race in 23rd spot.
Things got worse for Stenhouse several laps later when he made contact with the wall and had to pit for a flat right rear tire.
Dillon sped past Sadler on Lap 151 to recapture the lead that he eventually kept until the end. Hornish finished second while Brendan Gaughan, Drew Herring and Elliott Sadler completed the top five.
Dillon gained 15 points from the win and moved to third place, 19 points behind new leader Sadler while erstwhile frontrunner Stenhouse is now four points back after finishing 17th, with six races to go.
“It’s all about how bad you want it, and I want this championship real bad right now,” said Dillon.
“I think this thing is going to go back and forth from now all the way to the season finale at Homestead,” Sadler said. “We felt like we could really make a big gain today if we were able to win the race.
Meanwhile, Danica Patrick struggled in the first part of the race before rallying back to a 14th-place finish under new crew chief Ryan Pemberton.