Ty Dillon held off a charging Kyle Busch in the closing laps of the Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but he had to win the first NASCAR Nationwide Series race of his career with a fuel cell approaching empty.
Dillon grabbed the lead from Busch, the pole winner, moments after a restart on lap 77 of 100. He soon opened a lead of one second over the most prolific winner in series history, but it wasn’t without some pinpoint calculations from crew chief Danny Stockman.
In what was a family affair of the first order, Mike Dillon, the driver’s father and spotter, told Ty Dillon to start backing up his corners with six laps left. Dillon promptly lost a third of a lead that had grown to more than 1.2 seconds.
Team owner Richard Childress, Dillon’s grandfather, broke into the radio channel a lap later.
“You can’t give up that much to him,” Childress said. “Go for it.”
From that point on, Mike Dillon and Stockman kept repeating the same mantra, “Hammer down!” — and Dillon obliged, getting to the finish line .833 seconds ahead of Busch. Matt Kenseth ran third, and Kevin Harvick fourth.
“Boy, that was all I had,” Dillon said. “When you’ve got the best in the business behind you, it’s tough. It’s tough to stay focused and not give up.”
As the highest finisher among four eligible drivers for the Nationwide Insurance “Dash 4 Cash,” Dillon pocketed an extra $100,000, but the important thing was his first win in the series.
“The car started getting a little tight, but we had speed all weekend,” Dillon said. “We got out front, and she unleashed.”
Harvick led a race-high 33 laps but fell victim to the timing of a late debris caution on Lap 71. The five laps run under yellow before the last restart gave Dillon and Busch the margin they needed to get to the end of the race on fuel.
In Busch’s estimation, the outcome hinged on the lap 77 restart.
“I gave it away on that last restart there in turn one,” Busch said. “I got down in there, and the car never turned, and the car on my inside, Ty, drove right on by me. He got the lead, and it was over from there.
“I tried to maintain with him and tried to do a few things to get by him the first few laps before I got tight. And as soon as I got tight, he distanced me, and that was it.”
Joey Logano finished fifth, followed by Paul Menard, Brian Scott, Kyle Larson and Trevor Bayne. Regan Smith ran tenth and trimmed the series lead of JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who came home 12th, to four points.
NASCAR Wire Service