Austin Dillon survives flurry of late restarts to win at Texas

Austin Dillon is going back to the Cup Series playoffs.

Dillon held off teammate Tyler Reddick on a two-lap sprint to the finish to earn his first win of 2020 and his first win since the 2018 Daytona 500.

Dillon took the lead after his team decided that a two-tire stop was the best way to maintain track position after Quin Houff inexplicably crashed on lap 304 as teams were trying varying pit stop strategies.

Dillon found himself in second after that crash behind Reddick — who took fuel only — and got the lead after the ensuing restart. He then had to hold on for two more restarts after cautions that came out for Denny Hamlin inside the last 30 laps.

Hamlin crashed with Alex Bowman on lap 318 of the 334-lap race and then crashed by himself after that. The final crash set up the last sprint to the finish as Dillon was able to keep Reddick, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch at bay.

Dillon was able to do that because tire wear was nonexistent at Texas on Sunday. Fresh tires were far less important than clean air throughout the entirety of the race as drivers were able to relatively maintain track position.

Much like Kentucky, the majority of the race was a snoozer at best — though the highlights the race provided will overshadow the lack of passing throughout the race for better or worse.

The first big highlight came when Ryan Blaney had to check up while racing for the lead on lap 217 shortly after a restart. Blaney bottled up the field behind him and Busch went spinning off Aric Almirola’s bumper. As Busch spun he took out teammate Martin Truex Jr. and Truex then collected a bunch of cars on the front stretch after he hit the wall.

Houff causes chaos

A ridiculously bad move by Quin Houff put Dillon in position to get the win. Hamlin had pitted for two tires ahead of Ryan Blaney and appeared to be poised to inherit the lead as the race ended its conclusion when the cars ahead of them had to make their final pit stops.

But Houff ruined any chances that Hamlin and Blaney had at a win when he tried to pit from the middle of turn 4 with Christopher Bell to his inside.

Houff bounced off Bell and then Matt DiBenedetto and crashed into the wall. Calling the maneuver a rookie mistake would be extremely generous. And it’s a great example of how Houff, who has started all 18 Cup Series races in 2020, is over 30 points behind Kyle Larson in the standings. Larson, as you probably know, got fired after just four races after he said a racial slur during a virtual race.

Some good drivers are going to miss the playoffs

Dillon entered Sunday’s race 24 points behind Jimmie Johnson for the final playoff spot. That was after Cole Custer surprisingly won at Kentucky after he entered that race 25th in the standings.

With drivers securing playoff spots with a win, there are going to be some very good winless drivers who miss out on the postseason thanks to Dillon and Custer’s wins.

William Byron and Jimmie Johnson were both involved in crashes on Sunday and Johnson is currently ahead of Byron for the final playoff spot by two points. Erik Jones is also sitting outside the playoffs alongside Reddick and Bubba Wallace.

RCR’s 1-2

The 1-2 finish for Richard Childress Racing is the team’s first since 2011 when Clint Bowyer beat Jeff Burton at Talladega.

RCR has struggled in the years between its 1-2 finishes. Especially after Kevin Harvick left the team after the 2013 season.

Dillon’s win is just the fourth since Harvick departed and the team’s 15th since that 1-2 finish. Of those 15 wins since Bowyer’s Talladega victory, nine of them were by Harvick.

Race Results

1. Austin Dillon

2. Tyler Reddick

3. Joey Logano

4. Kyle Busch

5. Kevin Harvick

6. Erik Jones

7. Ryan Blaney

8. Kurt Busch

9. Brad Keselowski

10. Aric Almirola

11. Clint Bowyer

12. Chase Elliott

13. Ryan Newman

14. Bubba Wallace

15. Michael McDowell

16. Corey LaJoie

17. Matt DiBenedetto

18. Matt Kenseth

19. Chris Buescher

20. Denny Hamlin

21. Christopher Bell

22. John Hunter Nemechek

23. Daniel Suarez

24. JJ Yeley

25. Gray Gaulding

26. Jimmie Johnson

27. Brennan Poole

28. Reed Sorenson

29. Martin Truex Jr.

30. Alex Bowman

31. Josh Bilicki

32. Joey Gase

33. BJ McLeod

34. Quin Houff

35. Ty Dillon

36. Timmy Hill

37. William Byron

38. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

39. Cole Custer

40. Ryan Preece

Points standings

1. Kevin Harvick, 721 points

2. Ryan Blaney, 630

3. Brad Keselowski, 615

4. Joey Logano, 607

5. Chase Elliott, 604

6. Denny Hamlin, 578

7. Martin Truex Jr., 557

8. Aric Almirola, 534

9. Kurt Busch, 533

10. Kyle Busch, 520

11. Alex Bowman, 508

12. Matt DiBenedetto, 476

13. Clint Bowyer, 461

14. Austin Dillon, 428

15. Jimmie Johnson, 427

16. William Byron, 425

17. Tyler Reddick, 413

18. Erik Jones, 403

19. Bubba Wallace, 351

20. Chris Buescher, 341

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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