Richard Childress Racing is throwing a party tonight as Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick secured the team’s first 1–2 Cup Series finish since 2011 in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
For the fifth time since the season resumed in May, Aric Almirola had a front-row starting spot as he drew the pole (his second of the year). Ryan Blaney started second, while Chase Elliott and Reed Sorenson dropped to the back of the field for failing pre-race inspection twice. However, Sorenson was already going to start last as the open car with the fewest starts (Tommy Baldwin Racing‘s #7 had started nine of seventeen races entering Texas).
During pace laps, Almirola reported a failed brake pedal, but chose to push through the opening stage. The brakeless pole-sitter led the first 20 laps before the competition caution came out.
Leaders Almirola, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. stayed out under yellow, while Kyle Busch changed two tyres to exit pit road first. Jimmie Johnson received a penalty for having too many crewmen over the wall.
Harvick took the lead from his Stewart-Haas Racing team-mate on 26 before Almirola retook it 30 laps later. Green-flag stops began shortly after, with Truex inheriting the lead in the process.
Almirola’s stop saw him merge onto the track before clearing the blend line and receive a pass-through penalty. A similar infraction befell Justin Allgaier in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, though many drivers pointed out NASCAR rarely called such infractions until recently. For example, Allgaier explained on Twitter that “it was the normal way we all blended, and that it would happen again today. It’s disappointing but until it’s officiated this way, we don’t know. Now we regroup and move on to next week and not do it again.”
“Everyone has cheated the blend line for years,” tweeted David Ragan. “I guess @NASCAR decided they were going to start watching it more closely.”
Truex’s own pit woes occurred when he ran out of fuel on lap 68, allowing Ryan Blaney to take first.
Blaney scored the stage win, his first since Fontana in March. Kyle Busch, who won Saturday’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race (and unofficially the Xfinity event prior to his disqualification), finished second.
Behind the two were Harvick, Reddick, William Byron, Kurt Busch, Johnson, Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, and Truex.
Kyle Busch took the lead as the second stage began.
On lap 116, Johnson hit the wall in turn four for the caution, and his day worsened shortly after upon receiving a two-lap penalty for having too many crewmen over the wall while on the Damaged Vehicle Policy. Daniel Suárez was slapped with a one-lap penalty after pitting outside of his pit box.
When the race resumed, Christopher Bell avoided disaster when he slid and hit the wall, but continued as the event stayed green. Denny Hamlin took the lead from Blaney on lap 127, though the latter reclaimed the spot.
As green-flag stops began, Blaney pitted from the lead on lap 160. Harvick and Almirola spent time in first before hitting the pits, while Truex ran out of gas for the second time as he prepared to pit.
By the end of the stage, Blaney was once again the segment winner. Tailing were Logano, Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Truex, Elliott, Almirola, Erik Jones, and Kyle Busch.
Team Penske held three of the top four positions as Keselowski and Blaney led the field to the restart.
As Keselowski pulled ahead, Blaney got loose in turn four, forcing Logano to ease off the gas to avoid hitting his team-mate. This resulted stack-up in the tri-oval as Kyle Busch was turned by Almirola into the grass and clipped his Joe Gibbs Racing ally Truex. The chain reaction ran through turn one as a multi-car wreck claimed Buescher, Byron, Cole Custer, and Ryan Preece.
During the ensuing caution, Johnson collided with Ty Dillon‘s rear, forcing the latter to assess damage as the red flag came out to clean up the track. The delay lasted nearly twelve minutes before returning to yellow flag conditions.
The green flag waved on lap 224, with Hamlin and Blaney resuming their battle. On lap 243, John Hunter Nemechek spun on the backstretch for the caution.
Lap 249 saw the next restart with Hamlin and Blaney continuing their duel. After two laps of racing, Dillon was the race’s next casualty when he collided with Byron entering turn one, sending the former up into the outside wall. Byron was able to reach pit road, but retired from the race due to severe suspension damage.
A third consecutive Blaney/Hamlin front row restart commenced on lap 256 as the former kept the lead.
The final cycle of stops under green began with Elliott on lap 288. Blaney followed suit a lap later, surrendering the lead to Hamlin. When the leader hit the pits shortly after, he elected to change just right-side tyres. Matt DiBenedetto briefly led before pitting, relinquishing first to Logano.
On lap 306, Quin Houff attempted to come down in turn four to pit, but instead hit Bell and DiBenedetto, sending him into the outside wall. The move was widely criticised on social media, leading to questions after the race about Houff’s qualifications.
Reddick only took fuel to jump to first, while his RCR partner Austin Dillon took two to join him on the front row. The restart came with 23 laps to go and a strong jump pushed Dillon ahead.
As the RCR drivers ran 1–2, any momentum they built on the field disappeared on lap 319 when Hamlin and Bowman wrecked in turn two. Various drivers including the RCR duo chose to stay out.
The two comprised the front row as the race resumed with 11 laps left; although both had poor restarts, pushes from Kyle Busch and Logano kept them ahead. The RCR team-mates battled it out with Dillon clearing him on the inside after a lap. Behind them, Busch and Logano sparred for third.
Once again, Hamlin was responsible for a caution when he spun through the tri-oval grass while racing Elliott with six laps remaining.
Dillon and Reddick stayed on track as the race shifted into green-white-checkered conditions.
A great restart allowed Dillon to pull away, though Reddick had a solid push from Busch. However, the rookie could not catch his team-mate as Dillon stormed off to his third career Cup win and his first victory since the 2018 Daytona 500.
Reddick finished second to complete the RCR 1–2 finish. It is RCR’s first front-row sweep since Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton in the 2011 Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega.
Dillon remarked in his post-race interview, “Not bad for a silver-spoon kid, right?
“Tyler Reddick, he raced me clean. 1–2 for RCR. This has been coming. We’ve had good cars all year. I’ve got my baby Ace back home and my wife and I love them so much. I’m just so happy. Thank God.”