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Nationwide: Dillon completes Kentucky sweep

Austin Dillon won the Kentucky 300 Nationwide Series race after problems hit his main championship rivals Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on Saturday afternoon.
Austin Dillon might not have enjoyed the same domination that he did in the previous Nationwide visit to Kentucky Speedway when he claimed his maiden series win with victory in the Feed the Children 300 night race in June after leading 192 of the 200 race laps, but a problem-free run or the #3 put him on top at the same time that his rivals succumbed to accidents and technical gremlins.

"We weren't the best car, but we were able to fight, fight, fight and get out in front there at the end," said Dillon on victory lane. "When we got the chance to take the lead, I just took it."

Stenhouse had got the better start to the Kentucky 300 on the inside line in the Saturday afternoon sunshine, managing to pull up in front of pole sitter Dillon right before a rapid first caution came out for Joe Nemechek spinning on the backstretch. Even though less than two laps had passed under green, Kurt Busch had already improved to 27th place after having been forced to start from the back of the 43-car grid because of having missed qualifying while heading up from New Hampshire where he is also competing in this weekend's Sprint Cup race.

Stenhouse kept the lead at the restart on lap 6 - although he was warned by officials for being too slow to the green flag - while behind him Sam Hornish Jr. gave a light tap on Austin Dillon's shoulder and helped himself through into second place. Then another rapid caution materialised, this time for Brad Sweet spinning in turn 3 and being lucky not to be collected by either the wall or the oncoming pack of traffic.

Stenhouse, Hornish and Dillon fell into line again at the restart on lap 13 with Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier immediately behind them. Hornish and Dillon resumed their debate over which of them deserved second place, which enabled Stenhouse to start to stretch out a comfort margin over them both as there was finally a sustained period of green flag running through to lap 30. That's when the pre-scheduled competition caution was brought out to allow teams to check how their cars were performing on the 'green' track, following the overnight rainstorm that had blasted over Kentucky Speedway after the Friday evening Truck Series race.

The pit stops proved a disaster for race leader Ricky Stenhouse, who was hustled out of his stall only to collide with Eric McClure who was just pulling into his own pit box several slots again. The impact was hard enough for Stenhouse's crew to drag him back to check the #6 over for any potential punctures or tyre rub issues relating to the damaged right front quarter panel, and as a result Stenhouse dropped all the way back to 28th position.

That left Dillon in charge of the race for the restart on lap 36 with Hornish, Allgaier and Joe Gibbs Racing duo Brian Scott and Drew Herring (the latter in his first outing in a Nationwide car this season) rounding out the top six, but Herring was sent for a spin through the grass with the help of a bump from Michael Annett. Although Herring recovered and was remarkably unharmed - albeit dropped back down to 28th place by the time he got back into line - it triggered the fourth caution of the afternoon on lap 39.

Hornish got the jump on a sluggish Dillon at the next restart on lap 44; Dillon also got passed on the inside by Sadler and the outside by Allgaier, but a little bobble for Allgaier enabled Dillon to recover the third spot. Sadler was another matter altogether, as the #2 car took off to successfully challenge Hornish for the lead. Behind Dillon there was also Kurt Busch arriving on scene, moving up into the top five and looking impressively strong after having started from the back.

Ricky Stenhouse had been hoping for the same sort of forward momentum back up through the field after his pit lane mishap. Instead, he ended up pushing it too hard and on lap 48 he lost the backend of the car into the wall at turn 4, doing more damage with this hit than the original incident with McClure had done. His right rear tyre was shredded and he was forced to crawl onto pit road under green, and the amount of sorting out the crew had to do with the now-crumpled right rear of the #6 put Stenhouse two laps down and in 31st place by the time he resumed. The race win that had appeared so possible early in the race was emphatically out of the question: now it was just about damage limitation in the Nationwide championship points standings, especially with main rival Elliott Sadler now leading the race by over two seconds from the other major title contenders, Austin Dillon and Sam Hornish.




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Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Advocare Chevrolet, wins the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kentucky 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 22, 2012 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Advocare Chevrolet, wins the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kentucky 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 22, 2012 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images for NASCAR)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, leads the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Jimmy John`s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Jimmy John`s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Jimmy John`s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Brian Scott, driver of the #2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet, leads thre field past the green flag to start during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Jimmy John`s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 12, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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(Back Row L - R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Madison Martin, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, races Casey Mears, driver of the #13 GEICO Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

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