The Richard Childress Racing driver took the lead with 26 laps remaining to claim Thursday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on the 1.5-mile track, ensuring that neither Brad Keselowski nor Kyle Busch would win all three races this weekend in the Bluegrass State. The two are also entered in Friday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race, as well as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event Saturday night.
They came close -- Keselowski finished second Thursday, and Busch third. Busch led 42 laps, and was at the front until the handling on his truck faded following his final pit stop. Dillon passed him, and went on to win by more than five seconds over Keselowski.
"The handle went away," Busch said. "? We didn't make a good enough adjustment on that last pit stop, and we put two tires on it to get it tight enough to hustle the truck through the corners. I was just fighting for what I had."
Keselowski was rarely a factor at the front. "Just didn't come together," said the reigning Sprint Cup champion. "One of those things. Miss a little bit here, miss a little bit there. But we put on a great effort. We were really fast in practice, just came up a little bit short to Ty, who did a great job. I made one or two bad moves that hurt us, and we needed to be just a little bit better in a couple of other areas. That much. Kind of the story of running this deal."
Earlier Thursday, both drivers seemed to like their chances on the bumpy Kentucky surface, where Busch and Keselowski are the only winners at the Sprint Cup level.
"Kentucky Speedway really fits my style," said Keselowski, who won here last season. "There's a couple of unique characteristics about it, and that's why I picked this weekend to run all three. I felt like here and Bristol are probably two of my best tracks, and we need to capitalize on that, certainly on the Cup side -- have another strong run, and hopefully come away with the race win, which I think we have a very strong shot at, and I'd love to do that in the other two series as well."
Busch relished the additional track time at a facility where he won the inaugural Sprint Cup event in 2011.
"I like being able to get out there on the race track and be able to run as many laps as I can," he said. "For me, just getting that extra track time is kind of like extra practice, and I don't mind taking advantage of all that. For the guys that don't do it ? why they don't, I don't know. I guess maybe because they're not as successful at Nationwide racing so they don't find the benefit of it, I don't know. For me, I like racing in it and yeah, I win a lot in Nationwide and maybe not so much in Cup and people might think that I need to concentrate more on Cup. But tell me how last year went for me in the Cup Series, and I beg to differ that it doesn't help me to run in the Nationwide Series."
Sprint Cup activity does not begin until Friday. Both drivers took part in opening Nationwide practice Thursday, where Keselowski was fourth-fastest and Busch stood sixth on the speed chart. But Thursday night they both finished behind the young Dillon, a Truck Series regular who celebrated his second career victory on the circuit.
"To beat Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, two of the best on four wheels -- I look up to those guys and want to be like them someday," Dillon said, "so to be able to beat them is something special."
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