DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 28, 2022) – An early morning start under sunny skies turned dark in Stage 3 of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway. Delayed from the Saturday night schedule due to weather, drivers wasted little time climbing back behind the wheel after the all clear was given, ready to finish the last 20 laps of the regular season under a green flag.

Checkered flag win for Austin Dillon at the Coca Cola Zero Sugar 400 at the Daytona International Speedway on August 28, 2022. Danielle Anderson/Flagler News Weekly

Taking the checkered flag and the final spot in the upcoming playoffs, Austin Dillon pumped his fist enthusiastically from roof of his car near the start/finish line, surrounded his crew and family.

“I don’t think there’s any other form of motorsport that has this type of competitiveness week in and week out,” said Dillon. “It’s what the Cup Series is supposed to be. It’s challenging, and never give up it’s kinda what this year’s told me.”

Savvy driving put Dillon in the lead after a mashup cleared the field of a dozen cars at lap 138 and from there, the No. 3 Chevy Camaro seemed slated for a date with destiny.

As midday storms rolled in, attendees pondered the possibility of calling the race, which would have deemed Dillon the winner. Not ready to accept congratulations, he kept the mindset of returning to the track to finish the race in the forefront of his thoughts. Spending time with son Ace watching Paw Patrol and the Carolina Cowboys PBR event during the delay, he was ready to get back behind the wheel when the track was dry.

“You don’t let your mind drift to that. It’s like, you’ve still got race laps to go and I knew after that second storm I had to get my mind right, if they didn’t call it then, we were going back green,” said Dillion in a post-race press conference.

Richard Childress, Ace, Whitney and Austin Dillon.

Dillon’s wife Whitney had faith he would prevail, and relying on faith too, Dillion went on to success, surrounded by a steadfast support system.

“It was written. I mean, it was pretty awesome to just be behind the wheel today and I feel like it was a good day,” he said. “The Lord’s blessed me a lot of happy days and this is definitely going to be one of them. I’ll cherish it and thankful to have my son in Victory Lane, Whitney and my whole family here.”

Dillon, who hails from a racing family, was thrilled to celebrate victory in the same number his grandfather, 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Richard Childress, and the late racing legend Dale Earnhardt, Sr., had both driven in the past.


“Anytime I can bring Pop-Pop a win, it feels good,” shared Dillon. “He’s the reason RCR (Richard Childress Racing) is where it’s at and when you can go make the boss man happy it feels good.”

“If you lose the love for your sport you’re not going to perform at the highest level. So you’ve got to find why you’re coming out here each and every week doing it and for me, it’s family.”

Fun Fast Fact: 32 years ago another driver went on to win at the Daytona International Speedway with the same number and same uncommon start time of 10 a.m., while driving for Richard Childress Racing – The Intimidator, himself, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. 

The next event, the Cook Out Southern 500, is set for the Darlington Raceway on September 4, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. For more details, visit here