HOMESTEAD, Fla. – With tears in his eyes and three fingers in the air, Richard Childress hardly had words to describe his latest NASCAR championship.
His grandson, Austin Dillon, won the second-tier Nationwide Series title in the No. 3 car and by a margin of three points.
“Hard to believe,” team owner Childress said. “I couldn’t be more proud of Austin. He drives with his heart every lap. What can you say? He’s just a great competitor, a great grandson. I’m proud, really proud of him. He ran good and hard tonight.”
Sprint Cup Series regular Brad Keselowski won the Nationwide season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, moving up 10 spots in the closing few laps to give an otherwise ordinary race a wild finish.
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“Be glad there wasn’t a passenger with me, because they would have been screaming the whole way. I know I was,” Keselowski said.
But the night belonged to Dillon, who overcame a sluggish start and a scrape against the wall to finish 12th. It was good enough to hold off series runner-up Sam Hornish Jr., who crossed the line eighth.
“It was ugly,” said Dillon, who won the Truck Series title in 2011. “Probably the worst car we had all year. But we fought. My guys kept me positive in the car.”
Hornish looked as if he would overcome an eight-point deficit in the standings for much of the 200-lap race, but a lengthy caution late posed problems.
NASCAR slowed the race for 12 laps — tied for the longest caution of the year — and it turned out to be a setback for Hornish.
He dropped from third to ninth place on the final restart with five laps to go, virtually ending his chances to win the title.