Authors: By MARK LONG
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) -- Austin Dillon played it safe and ended up winning big.
Dillon, the 21-year-old grandson of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, finished 10th in the Truck Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday night - good enough to win the series championship.
Rookie of the year in the series a year ago, Dillon is the youngest champion in series history. He also stands as one of racing's up-and-coming drivers. He is scheduled to drive a full schedule in NASCAR's Nationwide Series in 2012.
Johnny Sauter won the rain-shortened race, holding off Denny Hamlin just before the final caution dropped. Sauter finished second in points, just ahead of James Buescher.
The sky opened up with 15 laps remaining. NASCAR officials called the race a few minutes later. Dillon celebrated wildly, hugging crew members and his younger brother while splashing in puddles.
Dillon started the race 20 points ahead of Sauter and 28 points ahead of Buescher. All Dillon needed to do was finish 16th or better to secure the title. He spent much of the race in the top 10. There was one moment of concern, when he fell to 15th following a restart. But it was short-lived. He quickly worked his back toward the front, staying out of trouble while passing several other trucks.
Buescher was in the middle of the chaos.
Harvick almost wrecked Buescher on an early restart and bumped him later in the same green-flag run. Buescher turned low to block Harvick on the restart. Harvick seemingly didn't like the move and rammed Buescher's rear bumper.
Things really got whacky on the next pit stop. As Buescher slowed to turn down pit road, Harvick tried to pass him on the outside. Buescher then turned into Harvick, nearly spinning him around.
Harvick finished third in his final truck race for Kevin Harvick Inc. He announced in September he was shutting down the race team.
Nelson Piquet Jr. was fourth, followed by Joey Coulter. Ty Dillon, Elliott Sadler, Timothy Peters and Jason White rounded out the top 10.