For the third week in a row the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet would lead the Camping World Truck Series field to the green flag, this time for the Lucas Oil 200 at the Iowa Speedway. But just a week after Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was able to put a No. 3 in Daytona's Victory Lane, could the rookie Austin Dillon follow it up?
Dillon was able to clear second place starter Aric Almirola and take off from the rest of the pack while Brian Ickler began pressureing that No. 51 for second. Five laps in Ickler got extremely loose and slipped up the track, dropping second place back to Almirola.
In what would be the store of the day, Dillon was mirred in lapped traffic and the field began to spread before the yellow was thrown. The first caution of the day came out on lap 39 when Steve Wallace lost a right front tire and slammed the wall. Tires were also an issue during the ARCA race the day before.
Dillon would take command of the field on the long green flag run to follow.
Second place in points Almirola shared in his teammate's tire woes on lap 75, when he too lost a right front tire and slammed hard into the wall. With Bodine, Sauter and Ickler racing three wide for second, and facing heavy competition from fifth place Crafton, Dillon was able to once again jump ahead of the field.
That lead was wiped away when, on lap 104, when Timothy Peters, who started the day third in points, lost an engine. This allowed the leaders to hit pit road, and tire strategy came into play. Among no, two and four tire stops, James Buescher put on his first set of tires, saving a set of sticker tires for later in the race; the only driver who would be able to do so.
Two laps after the lap 112 restart, more trouble for those at the top of the points standings as Bodine tried to split the No. 18 of Brian Ickler and the No. 07 of Donny Lia, sending Ickler into Lia, who then hit the wall. Behind them, Ron Hornaday was unable to slow down and slammed into the back of Greg Pursley, causing major damage to his No. 33 while Pursley, making his first Truck start, was able to continue on.
Under the extended caution, Hornaday went behind the wall while others made multiple stops to repair their trucks. Bodine tagged the back of the No. 18 under caution, and was posted by NASCAR for his payback.
Dillon was able to once again pull away from the field once they restarted on lap 120, but his large lead was erased again when Jason White was yet another victim of right front tires and hit the wall. James Buescher took this opportunity to change the battery in his No. 14 Wolfpack Rentals Chevrolet and also put his remaining set of stickers on.
For the first time all day, Sauter was able to pass the dominate No. 3 truck, taking advantage of starting on the outside on the lap 150 restart. But just three laps later, Dillon was able to take the lead back from the No. 13 and began driving away from the field- and was also told by his team to save fuel.
After a caution for debris with 29 laps remaining, Dillon learned from his previous mistake and chose the outside line on the restart and, as so many restarts before, was able to drive away from Sauter, who was battling his teammate Matt Crafton to keep second place.
The field was fairly spread out with 11 laps to go, but Sauter was slowly but surely gaining on the leader, who was saving fuel two seconds ahead of the field.
Then, of course, the caution came out- this time for Jason White, who lost another right front tire- setting up a green-white-checkered.
Dillon again chose the outside line on the restart, and with Crafton again challenging his teammate for second the No. 3 was able to drive away from the field and collect his first Camping World Truck Series win. He led 187 of the 205 laps run.
"It's pretty awesome. Like I've said from the beginning of the year, I wanted to do it for the fans, too. I know they want to see it out front," Dillon said. "I'm glad to sit in the No. 3. It's my favorite number to run, and hopefully I can run it for a long time."
"Dale would be proud," an emotional Richard Childress, playing the role of both truck owner and grandfather to the winning driver, said in Victory Lane. "I got pictures of Dale holding him in the winner's circle. He would be proud today, seeing Austin do this."
The rookie jumped four spots in the points to seventh, and sits 267 points behind leader Todd Bodine. Almirola remains second in points, 88 points back. Rounding out the top five in points are Hornaday, Peters and Sauter.
Next up for the CWTS is a visit to Gateway International Raceway for the CampingWorld.com 200. The race begins at 8:30 pm ET on SPEED.
Thanks to NASCAR on SPEED and NASCAR.com for the information and quotes used in this piece.