CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Austin Dillon was leaning on his No. 33 Chevrolet praying moments before the Xfinity Series race Friday night when fireworks came crashing down on his backside.
A startled Dillon jumped away from his car along with girlfriend Whitney Ward. His fire suit was slightly singed but the 25-year-old wasn’t injured.
“I don’t know if it was a sign from God or what — but He got me going with a firework in the butt,” Dillon joked.
Dillon overcame the pre-race scare and wound up coasting to an easy victory, giving him a sweep of the Xfinity Series races this year at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Dillon led 61 laps and held off Erik Jones for his fourth victory this season in the second-tier series. Brad Keselowski was third, followed by Daniel Suarez and Regan Smith.
Dillon said he saw a glimmer of light, but didn’t think anything of it. Then he said he felt his buttocks burning.
“It hurt a little bit,” Dillon said.
In the post-game interview room, Dillon showed reporters where his suit was burnt his suit.
Crew chief Danny Stockman Jr. was thankful the fireworks didn’t do any harm to the car.
“It was like looking at a movie screen, seeing light crashing at you. It went in between the door and Austin’s butt,” Stockman said.
Dillon started from the pole, but got off to a rough start and quickly gave away the lead.
It appeared early on it was Kyle Busch’s race to lose.
Busch, looking for his ninth Xfinity Series win at Charlotte and 75th overall, led 102 laps before his night ended when he hit the wall after Kasey Kahne tapped him from behind with 50 laps remaining.
Busch passed Mark Martin earlier in the night for the most career laps led at Charlotte in the Xfinity Series before a poor restart late in the race cost him the lead. Once he fell back in the pack, Busch began trading paint with his old rival Kahne. The two drivers got together several times before Kahne tapped Busch from behind, sending him into the wall.
Kahne said Busch got mad because Busch got into it with teammate Jones on the restart, which cost him the lead.
“I don’t know why he started beating on me,” said Kahne, indicating that he did nothing to deserve Busch’s attention.
Kahne said he doesn’t expect any emotions to carry over to the Sprint Cup on Saturday night, particularly with Busch competing for a Sprint Cup championship.
“I would hope not,” Kahne said. “I don’t know why he would want to have that battle. He wrecked me five times a couple of years ago and put me in a bad position when he was doing that. I don’t think he wants that battle.”
Kahne is not in the Chase.
Chris Buescher finished seventh, expanding his series points lead to 26 over Chase Elliott, who was ninth.
Buescher has previously said he’s not a big fan of racing at Charlotte, but said “we had a lot of speed in the car. We were able to move around a little bit. I had a good time, so I like Charlotte a little more.”