The Chevrolets have been taking a pretty good beating in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season — a no-wins-in-10-races shellacking to be exact.
But a couple of young and fast 2014 Sprint Cup Series rookies brought an end to the Toyota domination Saturday in the NCWTS Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway.
One of them, Austin Dillon, the grandson of veteran racer and car owner Dick Childress, did it by surviving a couple of hairy late-race restarts and finally breaking away from the pack to win the main event for his first win anywhere in more than a year.
And he did it in a truck with local sponsorship — Yuengling Light Lager — which caused Childress to say at one point during the postrace interview that he thought Pocono was "always one of the best tracks to race on, and I love coming here, the people, the restaurants and drinking Yuengling Light beer."
Childress and the late Dale Earnhardt teamed to make the No. 3 Chevrolet a symbol of ultimate success in NASCAR, and the owner got special satisfaction in seeing his grandson bring the No. 3 truck into Victory Lane — the first time that has happened since Earnhardt won a 1993 race.
The other Sprint Cup rookie, Kyle Larson, who will start from the pole in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400, also won the pole for the truck race and may have had the fastest truck on the track, but a mechanical problem didn't allow him to finish.
Dillon, who won the truck series championship in 2011 and the Nationwide Series title last year while climbing the ladder to the Sprint Cup Series, said he "circled this race on the map at the beginning of the year and wanted to win it" in the first truck built by Richard Childress Racing.
For a while, he had a difficult battle on his hands with Larson, who was making only his second start in the Cartwheel by Target Chevrolet. Larson led two different times for 21 laps before falling off the pace and having to settle for an 18th-place finish.
All in all, the race, which was extended by 10 laps this year, was entertaining and produced the fifth different winner since the trucks were added to NASCAR's second trip to Long Pond.
Because the extended race forced the trucks to revamp their strategy — one or two pit stops, for example — it made for some interesting battles.
No one was more proud of the effort by Dillon than his grandfather, even if, according to Dillon, when Larson broke out to a two-second lead on the first lap, "Pop-pop came on the radio and said, 'You can't be two seconds off the pace in a truck!'"
It didn't take long for Dillon to calm down Childress, who said, "To beat those restarts four times in a row with a Cup driver on the inside really showed his desire to win. I'm proud of him."
Clint Bowyer, who was a sub for John Wes Townley, challenged Dillon but didn't have enough for him and had to settle for fourth place behind Johnny Sauter and Joey Coulter, both of whom benefited from the problems with Larson's truck.
Pit stops: The genes are producing again. Justin Allison of Salisbury, N.C., grandson of former NASCAR and Indy car driver Donnie Allison and great nephew of Bobby Allison, took the lead on the 40th lap Friday and won the ARCA Racing Series ModSpace 125. The 21-year-old Allison averaged 121.918 miles per hour and beat Will Kimmel of Sellersburg, Ind., to the finish line. The race had three leaders. Nick Igdalsky, the chief operating officer at Pocono, finished sixth after starting 12th. … NSCS Happy Hour went smooth, with Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch posted the top three speeds. Pole-sitter Kyle Larson was sixth.
Retired sports columnist Paul Reinhard is a freelance writer.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun