Austin Dillon Takes the Checkered Flag in O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway

The second-biggest crowd since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and wreaked havoc on the sports world, as well as the world in general, was in attendance on Sunday afternoon in the Lone Star State as the NASCAR Cup Series rolled into town. On a blast furnace-type of day in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 brought more exciting racing to the track though the end result came up on the wrong side of things for 39 of the 40 drivers in the race. For the second consecutive week, it was a longshot that ended up cashing in as the victor and potentially frustrating most of the people that threw a couple of bucks on the race.

Last week, it was Cole Custer coming in on 500/1 odds to take the checkered flag at the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. On Sunday, it was Austin Dillon, who went off at 100/1 odds, holding off his teammate, Tyler Reddick, by .149 seconds to earn his first victory of the season and the third win of his career. Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five on the afternoon. It marked the first time that Richard Childress Racing had a 1-2 finish in a NASCAR Cup Series race since Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton finished 1-2 at Talladega back in 2011. That was an eternity ago.

The complexion of the race was altered not by the leaders on the track, but by a rookie that has garnered a bad reputation for being situationally unaware of what’s going on around him. Quin Houff caused a three-car accident with 29 laps to go that also affected Christopher Bell and Matt DiBenedetto. The caution took out frontrunners like Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola, putting them all a lap down at that point. Blaney was leading when the accident took place and was battling with Denny Hamlin for the top spot. The crash pretty much took his chances of winning and threw them out the window, ruining what had been an excellent showing. Blaney had won the first two stages and led a race-high 150 laps over the course of the race before eventually finishing seventh.

There was a total of 29 lead changes among a dozen drivers during the race. After Blaney, who was far and away the dominant car on the afternoon before Houff’s recklessness, Harvick was next in line in laps led as he had 40. Almirola led 35 laps while Dillon and Logano had each been at the front for 22 laps. Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. each led 15 laps while Kyle Busch along with Denny Hamlin led 11 apiece. Erik Jones was up front for seven laps, Reddick led five and DiBenedetto led for one in the race. There were 10 cautions totaling 45 laps and a red flag situation that came about after a 11-car crash on lap 218. Among those that were claimed in the wreckage was Custer, who followed up last week’s win with a 39th-place showing.

Blaney, Kyle Busch, Harvick, Kurt Busch and Truex Jr. were all in the top 10 of each of the first two stages in the race. Blaney claimed the first two stages before finishing seventh. Harvick was fifth, Kyle Busch was fourth and Kurt Busch finished seventh, leaving Truex Jr. as the lone driver of the quintet to finish outside the top 10 when the race came to a close. He was still running when the checkered flag was waved but finished 29th, 14 laps off the pace. Truex Jr. was caught up in that 11-car melee and never really threatened again as it took some time to get his car back to running after the wreck.

From a betting perspective, it was a bit of a rough week if you read our top prop bets, parts one and two, for Sunday’s race. We did hit on Erik Jones finishing in the top 10 (+100), noting that with him being on the outside of the playoff picture, that he may have to take a few extra chances. He finished sixth and even led seven laps, marking the fourth time in the last five races at Texas where he ran from the front. We also connected on the flier on Joey Logano to record the top finish in Group B (+255), which was a tough group Sunday. Three of the four drivers in that group finished in the top nine of the race but Logano’s third-place run gave him the edge there.

There were a couple of tough ones as well. While Almirola didn’t earn the win (+2200), the tougher loss involving him came where we took him to post the best finish in Group C (+215), as it was a solid group as well. Jones finished sixth and Kurt Busch was seventh, outdistancing Almirola’s 10th-place showing. Kyle Busch’s late bounceback also was painful as we tabbed Jones to be the top Toyota finisher (+800), though he ended up two spots behind the 18 car of Busch.

After Sunday’s race, Harvick led the points standings by 91 points over Blaney. Keselowski (106 points back), Logano (114 points behind) and Elliott (117 points off the pace) round out the top five. As far the playoff picture goes, Harvick and Hamlin each have four wins to run 1-2 in the standings. Keselowski and Logano have two wins each while Blaney, Elliott, Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, Dillon and Custer have all won once. That puts those 10 guys in the playoffs when they begin in September. Currently, that leaves six spots for non-winners to make the playoff field. As of Sunday, that group includes Almirola, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, DiBenedetto, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.

The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series comes to you on Thursday night from the Sunflower State. It will be the Super Start Batteries 400 from Kansas Speedway. Green flag time is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET with television coverage provided by the NBC Sports Network and the Performance Racing Network. After that, it will be 10 days before the following race, which is the Foxwood Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on August 2.

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Chris Kubala

Biography coming soon!