DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Austin Dillon once stood in victory lane at Daytona International Speedway celebrating a Dale Earnhardt win with his grandfather and wondering if he would ever make it back to commemorate his own achievement.
Richard Childress assured his grandson, “You’ll have the opportunity one day, and you’ll make it.”
Dillon proved his grandfather correct Saturday night by winning the Xfinity Series race at Daytona for Richard Childress Racing.
“It’s Daytona, man, I have so many family memories here and have been to a lot of victory lanes with RCR and a lot of crazy events have happened here,” Dillon said. “I’m just happy for my grandfather.”
Childress won 34 races at Daytona with Earnhardt, and Dillon admitted he wasn’t sure if he should believe his grandfather’s projection for his own future.
“When you are that young, you are just proud to be part of something like this,” he said.
Dillon won by avoiding a late accident, and then holding off the competition on a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish. He said it was his favorite win of his career.
Brian Scott dominated the race and led 84 of the 104 laps, but with four scheduled laps remaining, he tried to shoot up the track to block Elliott Sadler. Scott was never clear of Sadler and he ran into him, triggering a 12-car crash.
“I told myself I was going to be aggressive and I was going for the win,” Scott said. “Obviously, I mis-timed it a little bit. In hindsight, I should have stayed glued to the bottom, but I felt like I had to be aggressive.”
Sadler said Scott was never clear to make the move.
“Brian just tried to make the move too late to block us,” Sadler said. “It’s a shame, we had a car good enough to win.”
Dillon escaped that wreck and was the leader on the restart. He held off Sadler, Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne for his third victory of the season, first at Daytona and first on a superspeedway.
Dillon returns Sunday night for the Sprint Cup Series race and will start on the front row next to Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“That’s going to be pretty awesome to start up front with Dale Jr., one of my heroes,” Scott said. “We’ve got a really fast car for that race, too.”