LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Austin Dillon led 80 laps and won from the pole Saturday at New Hampshire Motorspeedway in the milestone 500th NASCAR Truck Series race.
He won for the first time this season in the series, to go with three wins in the Xfinity Series. Dillon was dominant in the No. 33 Chevrolet and won for the seventh time in 67 career races.
“I owe a lot to the Truck Series for getting me where I’m at today,” Dillon said. “It taught me a lot having to race hard when you have to.”
Two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton was second, followed by Johnny Sauter, Timothy Peters and John Hunter Nemechek. Nemechek won last week’s race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Points leader Erik Jones was seventh and holds a seven-point lead over Crafton in the standings.
“I thought it would have been a smaller lead than that I guess after that run,” Jones said. “It’s nice to salvage a decent day out of it. Definitely not what we wanted I feel good about it still. As long as we can keep getting ourselves a little bit better and keep running fine, we’ll be all right.”
Jones immediately left the track for Kentucky Speedway to race Saturday night in the Xfinity Series race.
Kyle Busch was 11th as one of the top drivers in the 20-year history of the series faded down the stretch after leading 67 laps. His truck had a late tire rub and knocked the No. 51 Toyota out of contention.
He slowed down at one point during the race to let Jones, who drives for Busch, pass him and earned some needed points.
Cole Custer was 24th because of a blown right front tire a year after he won the race and became the youngest winner in a NASCAR national series race at 16 years, 7 months, 28 days.
It was just one more historic mark in the history of the third major NASCAR touring series.
Mike Skinner won the first race on Feb. 5, 1995, at Phoenix International Raceway en route to the first series championship. Ron Hornaday Jr. has a record four championships. He also tops the Truck record book with 51 career wins.
Some of Sprint Cup’s biggest stars started — or still race — in the Truck Series. Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle all won rookie of the year honors in the series.
Brad Keselowski, the 2012 Cup champion, and his dad, Bob, are the only father-son combination to win races in the series.
Keselowski and Kyle Busch own Truck teams. With 44 victories in the series, Busch is second only to Hornaday on the career wins list.
Dillon, who races in the Cup series for grandfather Richard Childress, ran a full Truck schedule in 2010 and 2011.
“Hopefully, we can have thousands of races in the Truck Series,” Dillon said. “I’ve enjoyed all mine.”
Jones has a 12-point edge over Tyler Reddick and Sauter is 49 points back of the lead as the series shifts to Las Vegas.
“We’ll just have to go back and make our Tundras a little bit better,” Jones said. “It’s just we can’t do that this late in the year, we can’t be that far off. We’ll just have to work on it and figure out what was wrong and how to be better here for the next six weeks.”