With the laps winding down in Saturday night’s U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway, it appeared as though Ty Dillon was going to snap his 65-race winless streak in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Unfortunately for Dillon, Erik Jones had other plans, snatching the lead and victory away from the driver of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevy with just 16 laps remaining.
Dillon grabbed the lead during a round of pit stops after Brandon McReynolds slammed the wall in Turn 1 with 100 laps to go. On the ensuing restart, he cleared Elliott Sadler exiting Turn 2 and began to pull away from the field. Slowly but surely, Jones, who had the most dominant car in the field and led a race-high 154 laps, began to reel in the No. 3 machine.
When Jones got to Dillon’s bumper, he started to work the high side before finally making a move to the inside of Dillon entering Turn 3. Despite a valiant effort, the No. 20 Toyota got around Dillon and cruised to victory.
“The high line wasn’t there. Every lap I was having to do everything I could to keep him behind me,” Dillon told NBC Sports after the race. “He ran a good race, and it just wore my stuff out a little more than I needed to.”
Dillon led a season-high 83 laps in Saturday’s race, the most he has led since leading 43 circuits at Kentucky Speedway last September.
“Man, I want to win so bad,” Dillon said. “That was all I had … we just came up 10 laps short this time.”
With Saturday’s race being the final standalone oval before the inaugural Xfinity Chase starts in September, a victory would’ve all but guaranteed Dillon a playoff spot. Being just close enough is becoming a similar refrain for the grandson of Richard Childress, who has finished in the top five in four of his last five Iowa starts.
“My heart’s been broken every race since Indy,” Dillon said. “I want to get to Victory Lane again. We’re close, we just got to get a little better.”
Dillon’s lone victory in the Xfinity Series came at Indianapolis in 2014. He currently sits third in the standings, 35 points behind leader Elliott Sadler.
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