Dillon claims Truck Series title at Homestead

11/18/2011 9:14:19 PM

At age 21, Dillon became the youngest champion in the 17-year history of the series after finishing 10th in the rain-shortened Ford 200 at Homestead. Dillon -- the grandson of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress -- clinched the title by just six points over Johnny Sauter, who won the race and led the most laps with 44.

Dillon also became the first driver to win the rookie-of-the-year title and the series championship in consecutive seasons.

"This is just a dream come true," he said. "You can't ask for anything else but this. It's just amazing."

Dillon ran second to Sauter late in the race, but after the final restart on lap 102, Dillon quickly dropped to 14th after what appeared to be a mechanical issue with his truck.

"I guess I had to scare everybody on that last restart," Dillon said. "On the last restart, I don't know what happened. I got three-wide, so I just let everybody go to get back in line."

Just before the caution flag waved for rain, Denny Hamlin was attempting to pass Sauter for the lead, but Hamlin made slight contact with the wall and could not make the move, as Sauter pulled away.

NASCAR officials halted the scheduled 200-mile race when the rain intensified with 15 laps remaining. Officials then called it minutes later, allowing Sauter to earn his second win of the season and the fourth of his truck career. His first victory this season came in April at Martinsville.

"This is the way we needed to go out," Sauter said. "We led the most laps and then essentially won the race. It was going to be a very interesting last couple of laps if the rain hadn't come. I was prepared to do whatever it took to get this [truck] into victory lane."

Dillon drives the No.3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Dale Earnhardt drove the No.3 car for RCR when he won six of his seven Cup Series championships. Dillon will use that same car number during his full-time effort in the Nationwide Series next year.

"It's just fantastic to win the championship and watch how hard these guys worked all year and to see that 3 back into the championship circle," Childress said. "Ty Dillon, my other grandson, won the ARCA championship, and Joey Coulter won the rookie of the year. It's a great year for RCR in the Truck Series."

Mike Skinner was the last RCR driver to win a truck championship, doing so in 1995, the inaugural year of the series.

Hamlin, who drove the No.18 truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports, finished second, while Kevin Harvick placed third in his last race as a team owner in the series. Nelson Piquet Jr. took the fourth spot, and Coulter was fifth.

"This has been the most amazing year of my career," Coulter said of his rookie honors.

Ty Dillon finished sixth, followed by Elliott Sadler, Timothy Peters and Jason White.

James Buescher finished 12th and ended the season 29 points behind Dillon. Buescher started on the pole since qualifying was rained out earlier in the day. He was quickest in practice.

"We've learned a lot this year, and we never gave up," Buescher said.

Buescher hit the back of Harvick and spun him as the two were entering pit road during a round of green-flag stops on lap 73. After a restart earlier in the race, Harvick bumped into the back of Buescher and got him loose while Sauter drove past the both of them to take the lead.

Ron Hornaday Jr. finished 13th in his 300th career truck start. Hornaday Jr. finished the year 50 points behind Dillon.