SPARTA, Ky. — No one had driven the No. 3 car since Dale Earnhardt’s death on the track at the 2001 Daytona 500.
On a warm night in the Bluegrass state, Austin Dillon lived up to the legend, then had the victory called into question when the car failed its postrace inspection.
Dillon took the lead early and was on top for 192 of the 200 laps to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway on Friday night.
“I love running the 3,” Dillon said. “It pressures me every week to give 110 (percent).”
Roughly an hour after the trip to victory lane, the No. 3 car failed the inspection for being too low in the rear. NASCAR announced it would issue a ruling early next week.
A similar situation took place earlier this season at Iowa where a car also failed a postrace inspection. The crew chief was fined $10,000 and six points were subtracted from the team.
Reached at the garage, Dillon’s crew chief, Danny Stockman, wiped sweat from his forehead as he left a meeting with officials.
“We’ve had an issue before. We addressed it in a meeting,” Stockman said. “It should have been addressed. That’s the only comment I’ve got.”
The No. 3, of course, was driven to fame by Earnhardt, who raced for the Childress team. Childress is Dillon’s grandfather and also his team owner.
As Dillon was clinching the win, his grandfather said over the radio, “Dale would have been proud of that.”
It was the first Nationwide victory for Dillon, a rookie who captured the Truck Series title a year ago.
Also on Friday:
Johnson grabs pole at
SPARTA, Ky. — Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson overcame blustery wind to capture his first pole in more than a year when he edged Kyle Busch for the top spot for today’s race at Kentucky Speedway. A freakish storm with high wind that lifted tents and littered the area with debris caused qualifying to be suspended.
Force takes first night of Route 66 NHRA qualifying
JOLIET, Ill. — John Force topped Funny Car qualifying at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals. The 63-year-old Force powered his Ford Mustang to a 4.050-second run at 310.77 mph during the first of two night qualifying sessions for the event. The 15-time champ won the season-opener race in Pomona, Calif.