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VALLÉE-JONCTION, Quebec – Jason Hathaway survived a ferocious battle with Mark Dilley and won the Budweiser 300 on Sunday.
Hathaway and Dilley swapped the lead seven times in the inaugural NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 race at Autodrome Chaudière and battled to the end on a green-white-checkered finish before Hathaway emerged with the win. It was the fourth series career victory for the driver of the No. 3 Rockstar Energy Drink/HGC Chevrolet out of Dutton, Ontario.
Dating back to last season, it was Hathaway’s third triumph in his last six starts and third in the last four oval track events.
“I like short tracks,” Hathaway said. “As soon as we got on the track I loved it. It’s a great place, great facility and the crowd was great for the first time here.”
Dilley settled for second while Steve Mathews, who won his third career pole position earlier in the day, crossed the line in the third position. Defending and three-time series champion Scott Steckly battled back from a start toward the rear of the field to finish fourth followed by Louis-Philippe Dumoulin in fifth.
Alex Guenette, D.J. Kennington, J.R. Fitzpatrick, Noel Dowler and Jason White completed the top-10 finishers on the day.
After pacing both practice session earlier in the day, Hathaway qualified third for the event. Once the green flag dropped he went on to lead four different times for a race and career high 177 laps around the racey quarter-mile.
“I’m not great at qualifying, even on the road courses I’m not great at qualifying, but the longer I go [in the race] the better I am,” Hathaway said. “It just fits my style.”
It was a solid season debut for Dilley, who did not compete in the opener. The veteran piloted the No. 02 Johnsonville/Leland Ford at the front for 60 laps and a runner-up finish.
“It was a good race,” Dilley said. “The race track is great. You can race two lanes.”
Despite Hathaway’s decided advantage in the long runs, Dilley had success against him on the restarts, and it almost paid off in a trip to Victory Lane.
“I got him a couple times earlier on the outside, and I was going to try for sure [to get him on the green-white-checkered restart],” Dilley said. “The biggest thing was I just didn’t want to wreck both of us. … We respect each other, we’re not going to wreck each other.”
Like race winner Hathaway, polesitter Mathews also recorded a career high for laps led with 64.
“It was a lot of fun. Anything you get to get behind the wheel of a race car it’s fun,” Mathews said. “I wish I had a little bit better handling car after about 50 laps, but we didn’t seem too much worse than others, and put in a good run out there.”
Autodrome Chaudière became the 16th different to hold an event in Canadian Tire Series history on Sunday. The race was postponed one day after persistent rain showers washed out all on-track activity on Saturday.
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 returns to Quebec for a July 6 date at Mirabel’s Circuit ICAR for the Jiffy Lube 100 presented by La Petite Bretonne, the season’s second of four road course events.
The inaugural Budweiser 300 from Autodrome Chaudière will be telecast by TSN on Sat., June 21 at 1:30 p.m. ET. French-language coverage will be carried by RDS2 on Fri., July 4 at 8 p.m. and RDS on Wed., July 9 at 7 p.m. ET.
Jason Hathaway (3) leads the way en route to his fourth career NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 victory. Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR