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Trucks: Tyre call Dillon's key to victory lane

17 September 2011

Austin Dillon was celebrating in victory lane, after a decision to go for two-tyre pit stops proved critical in putting him in front of Friday night's dominant driver, Kevin Harvick.

"This is the biggest win of my career, I think!" said the jubilant 21-year-old Richard Childress Racing driver in victory lane.

Harvick had led for 99 of the 150-lap Fast Five 225 Camping World Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday evening, including the first 39 laps of the night after quickly dispatching polesitter Steve Arpin. By contrast Dillon led only 17, and all but three of them were in that vital final sprint to the chequered flag after the final round of pit stops.

The race saw only three cautions - two for debris and one for fluid on the track - for a total of 15 laps under yellow, allowing the trucks to get a good deal of long green flag running in during the one and a half hours it took on the 1.5 mile paved speedway, before a crowd of some 30,000 people.

That set up a final round of green flag pit stops with around 20 laps to go, and Harvick was the first of the front-runners to come in on lap 129. His hand was forced when it came to tyre strategy, after the #2 had picked up a nasty vibration during the proceeding 42 laps of racing partly as a result of having risked not changing tyres on the previous round of stops.

"[The vibration] definitely dictated a four-tyre call," said Harvick. "When it got to the point of shaking bad enough to where I knew something was changing, I just came in and changed four tires. I knew at that point, they [Dillon and Kyle Busch] were going to do the opposite, but we had to change four."

Kyle Busch responded next lap by with a two-tyre stop, but the king of the fast pit stops was out-performed on pit road for once by Dillon who came in on lap 131 for two new tyres of his own.

“I've been practicing getting on pit road,” said Dillon admitting he'd been learning from studying the Cup regular. “Kyle is the best to watch getting on pit road. I really focused on that."

Busch then lost out in a side-by-side battle with his old foe Harvick for second, and wasn't able to sustain that position for long either before being overtaken by series rookie rivals Nelson Piquet Jr. and Parker Kligerman in the final run to the flag.

“We just didn't have the right truck tonight to keep it up front and keep a fast truck that will hold those guys off," admitted Busch.

Harvick was also surprised to find that he no longer had what he needed to close the gap to Dillon, who went on to take the chequered flag almost five seconds ahead of him. It was to be Dillon's night - and he was quick to share the credit with his crew chief for that final two-tyre call and the perfect pit stop.

"Danny Stockman made great calls all night and the boys picked up spots every time we came down pit road," said Dillon. "It was just a blast out there driving, especially when we got out front. I could run wide open."

Dillon's victory ended a four-race winning streak for Kevin Harvick Inc. cars which included a hattrick by the owner-driver himself. The win also means that Dillon is the only Truck Series driver other than KHI's Ron Hornaday Jr. to score more than one win in 2011, a feat that puts him up into second place in the Truck Series championship standings behind James Buescher and ahead of Johnny Sauter.

Full race results as well as qualifying and practice times available.


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