INDIANAPOLIS – It was 1995 when the late Dale Earnhardt drove the famed No. 3 Chevrolet to victory in the second Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On Saturday, young Ty Dillon returned that famed number to the top of the scoring pylon with his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in the Lilly Diabetes 250.
Dillon, the grandson of team owner Richard Childress, passed pole winner and race leader Kyle Busch on a restart with 24 laps to go in the 100-lap race. He had enough fuel to make it to the checkered flag and even had enough leftover to smoke the tires with some serious burnouts.
“We get to kiss the bricks, baby,” Dillon said to his crew over the radio.
Dillon scored his first career Nationwide win against the most successful driver in Nationwide history as Busch finished second 0.833-seconds behind.
It’s the fourth time Childress has been able to celebrate at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He won the Brickyard in 1995 with Earnhardt, 2003 with Kevin Harvick and 2011 with Paul Menard.
“He’s had a tough year this year and to come up here and win Indy is a great day for RCR, Ty Dillon and the whole family,” Childress said. “We couldn’t be happier.”
Matt Kenseth finished third in a Toyota followed by Harvick’s Chevrolet. Joey Logano rounded out the top five in a Ford.
Although the win was Dillon’s first in Nationwide it is his fourth national series win to go along with his three victories in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“It really hasn’t fully sunk in yet, but the emotions are incredible,” Dillon said. “It’s incredible. I came here two years ago. I remember sitting up here talking to you after finishing third in my second Nationwide race ever, and something about this place just feels right to me. I feel comfortable. I don’t know what it is. I couldn’t tell you what it is. But the main thing was Danny Stockman (crew chief) gave me a piece that I felt like I could go out there and win with from the moment we unloaded, and he put me in position to win and we did it.
“I wasn’t going to let this thing go. I wasn’t going to let it slip. My guys have gone through some hard stuff this year and they’ve never given up on me, so I was definitely going to give it all I had.”
Stockman had a hunch that Dillon would be able to contend for victory at Indianapolis and made sure the team gave him a Chevrolet that was capable of running up front.
“We knew that Ty ran really good here, and we definitely take our best race car to the racetrack every week,” Stockman said. “We’ve really made a stepping‑stone here the last three months or so in our company and our Nationwide program. We got a little bit off and really have been turning around here since Michigan. Our company has been winning some races here with Paul Menard at Michigan and Brendan Gaughan at the road course (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin) and we knew when we unloaded that we had a good car, and qualifying went really good. A lot of these races are won and lost with strategy, and we had a good car today, and we made the right strategy.”
It all came down to a restart with 24 laps to go and Busch the leader. He chose the outside line instead of the inside because he remembered getting smoke for the lead at the start of the race when Kenseth passed him from the outside going into turn one.
So Busch thought the outside line would be his path to victory.
He was wrong.