A spin on the backstretch turned into a multi-car wreck in the closing stages of the Sprint Cup Series race in the Lone Star State.
Exiting turn 2 with 47 laps to go in the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Austin Dillon was tapped from behind by Jimmie Johnson and sent sliding into the wall. After touching it with the right-rear corner, the driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet overcorrected and turned back into the outside wall.
His car then slid down the track where it was clipped by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He continued down and tapped the inside wall.
Because Dillon was running toward the front when he spun, his car came down just as the rest of the field was hauling the mail down the backstretch. As a result, a number of cars spun out in a chain-reaction, trying to avoid the lifeless No. 3 car.
“I haven’t seen (the replay) yet,” Dillon said after being released from the infield care center. “We were on older tires and I was trying to get all I could there. It’s part of trying to win a race. We put ourselves in a position to be out front, thinking that two laps wouldn’t mean much, but it did. That’s part of it. The good Lord kept me safe tonight and gave me a good race car. You have to be gracious in defeat. We’ll come back next week with another fast car and hopefully we can do the same thing we did today, and that’s run up front.
“It tore up a bunch of race cars. We had a good car. I just wish we could re-do it. But heck, we’re learning. We had another fast race car. We’ll go on from here. I don’t know why they put us a lap down for a speeding penalty. Usually, a speeding penalty is like the tail end of the longest line. So, that lost us some more spots there at the end. But, we’ll take it and go home.”
“Tonight wasn’t our night,” Ryan Newman said. “We started off the run tight and as more rubber was laid down, we got loose. There weren’t a lot of cautions, so we made green-flag pit stops and fell a lap down to the leader. With most of the stops under green, we didn’t have many opportunities to get our lap back, especially after we got caught up in a wreck towards the end of the race. The right-side of the car was tore up but not enough to take us out of the race. The Caterpillar team never gave up, that’s something to be proud of.”
In total, 13 cars were caught in or sustained damage from the wreck. The cars involved were Michael Annett, Trevor Bayne, Clint Bowyer, Dillon, Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Newman, David Ragan, Brian Scott, Regan Smith, Stenhouse and Brian Vickers.
The damage was fatal to Bowyer’s and Vickers’s cars as they were unable to finish the race.
“It was a long day,” Vickers said. “That wreck just finally ended it for us. It’s unfortunate. I was really proud of the effort by the guys all weekend. We never really had the car we wanted. We fought hard for it. It was great having TaxAct Military Files Free on the car. We just didn’t have it tonight. We worked hard on it. The guys kept making it a little better we just couldn’t get what we needed. It just wasn’t our night.”
“It looked like at first I thought he (Dillon) was gonna come down the track and then it looked like he was gonna stay up on the top,” Stenhouse said. “I kind of committed to turning underneath thinking he was gonna stay at the top, then all of a sudden he came down and I got as much brake as I could and avoided him as much as I could. We just barely clipped him ever so slightly and it got us too much damage.”
Landon Cassill, who was caught right in the eye of the storm, managed to snake his way through the gaggle of cars and emerge without a scratch on his No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford.