This week, SPEED.com counts down the five best NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races of 2010. No. 3 is the historic first victory by Austin Dillon at Iowa Speedway.
It was moment race fans had been waiting for for a long time, and one many thought they’d never see again: The black No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet taking the checkered flag at a NASCAR race.
The date was July 11, 2010, with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie Austin Dillon dominating the Lucas Oil 200 at Iowa Speedway.
Dillon, the grandson of team owner Richard Childress, scored the historic victory at age 20 years, 2 months, 37 days, becoming the second-youngest winner in series history. Kyle Busch is the youngest, winning his first Truck race at 20 years, 18 days.
It was the first Truck Series race victory for Richard Childress Racing since Jay Sauter won at Texas in October 1999.
And Dillon made it look easy. In just his 12th Truck Series start, Dillon led 187 of 205 laps and beat Johnny Sauter to the finish line by .635 seconds.
Dillon’s dominant run was nearly spoiled by Sauter, who was able to snatch the lead on a restart on Lap 150 after a caution for Jason White’s accident in Turn 3.
“I saw sparks coming from the 23 truck (White), and I knew there was about to be a caution, and I was trying to make those last few laps in about two seconds instead of 24 seconds because I knew that Sauter was going to be tough,” Dillon said.
Dillon was able to reclaim the lead on Lap 154, but there were two more late-race restarts — including one that pushed the race beyond the scheduled 200 laps — but Sauter was unable to mount a serious challenge.
Sauter thought he had a chance to reel in Dillon on the final restart but a stumble at the line when Dillon checked up caused him to get off the throttle and broke his momentum.
“(Sauter) had beat me on a restart earlier, so I mixed up my pickup point for the green just like I did when I was dirt racing,” Dillon said. “I had a little advice from Pop Pop (Childress) on the radio coming to the green, and the experience he has definitely helped.”
It allowed Dillon to cruise to victory in the final two laps.
“I anticipated the start a little, and I looked over and I didn’t see him so I had to jump off the gas,” Sauter said. “The rule is the second-place guy can’t beat the leader to the line and I didn’t want to risk a black flag so I had to get off the gas and we were just playing defense after that.”
Matt Crafton finished third, followed by Ken Schrader and James Buescher.
In victory lane at Iowa, Dillon fought back tears.
“Man, my guys have been awesome all year,” said Dillon. “They built fast trucks. We just have made little mistakes that hurt us all year ... My guys are awesome. This truck was awesome.”
After winning, Dillon spoke of the Bible verse taped in his truck, and of his grandfather on his radio in the closing laps, telling him which line to run to hold off Sauter. “I told him, ‘It’s alright, we’re going to win this race,’” Dillon said of his conversation with Childress. Heady stuff for someone not old enough to legally drink a beer.
Asked how much winning a race in the black No. 3 meant to him, Dillion wasted no time. “I just wanted to do it for the fans of this 3,” he said. “The 3 is a good number to run.”
“He did a great job, the whole team did,” happy grandfather Childress added. “... Dale would be proud today, seeing Austin do this.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.