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Nick Harrison Pocono 1

RCR 50 TBT: Nick Harrison Strategy Leads Dillon to Pocono Victory Lane

With the 2019 season serving as the 50th anniversary of Richard Childress Racing, we plan to dip into the archives to present the stories of iconic moments, race wins, championships and much more as part of our weekly Throwback Thursday series.

On Sunday, July 21, the racing world lost crew chief Nick Harrison, a close friend of and former employee at Richard Childress Racing. Harrison, who was 37 years old, won four NASCAR Xfinity Series race and one NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series races as a crew chief at RCR.

As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway for this weekend’s 400-lap event, we look back at Harrison’s lone Truck Series win, which came in August 2014 at the ‘Tricky Triangle’ with Austin Dillon behind the wheel of the No. 3 Chevrolet.

Support the Nick Harrison Scholarship Fund with a ‘Haulin Ballz’ T-Shirt

This weekend, Pocono Raceway will honor the life of Nick Harrison by saluting him on Lap 11 of Sunday’s race, including his name on their rock of honor in the infield and more.

Qualifying in the second position, Dillon and Harrison were on a fuel-saving strategy from the outset, saving fuel from the time the engines were fired on pit road.

Pole sitter Kyle Larson took control of the race in the opening laps, but Dillon kept his Chevrolet truck in touch with Larson and did his best to save fuel throughout the run. On the day’s first caution, Harrison kept Dillon on the track when the majority of the field hit pit road. Sticking to their one-stop strategy, the call put Dillon in the lead for the first time of the day.

Dillon narrowly escaped disaster on the restart, when future teammate Tyler Reddick – then driving for Brad Keselowski Racing – got loose entering Turn 1 and nearly collected Dillon’s truck. That bobble securely gave Dillon the lead.

With 30 of 60 laps complete, Dillon brought his truck to pit road under green for four tires and fuel from the Harrison-led crew. The stop halfway through the race allowed Dillon to make it to the end on fuel and set their strategy for the rest of the event.

Crew chief Nick Harrison used a one-stop strategy to play the fuel mileage game and deliver a win for Austin Dillon and RCR at Pocono Raceway in August 2014. (Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Crew chief Nick Harrison used a one-stop strategy to play the fuel mileage game and deliver a win for Austin Dillon and RCR at Pocono Raceway in August 2014. (Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)

By pitting under green, Dillon spent the second half of the race working his way back to the front and hoping Harrison’s strategy would pan out.

When the caution flew on Lap 48, Harrison kept with the strategy and kept Dillon on the racetrack when others hit pit road for fuel and service. The No. 3 Chevrolet lined up on the front row for the restart and Dillon retook the lead from Clint Bowyer on Lap 53.

The race was far from over, however. While Dillon was able to pull away with the race lead, Reddick was turned around into the outside wall by German Quiroga that brought out the third caution of the day with six laps to go. The incident was far from over, though, as Reddick retaliated on Quiroga after the ensuing restart. That retaliation brought out the final caution of the day, led Reddick to be parked by NASCAR and set up an overtime finish.

Despite fuel concerns, Dillon did enough behind the wheel to have enough gas to last to the checkered flag. Johnny Sauter gave the No. 3 Chevrolet a big push down the frontstretch, allowing Dillon to take the lead off Turn 1 and drive away to score the victory.

As Dillon smoked the tires at the start/finish line, Harrison climbed off the pit box and celebrated with the pit crew.

“It was nerve-wracking because we only had enough fuel left for a few laps past advertised distance,” Harrison told FS1 after celebrating with the team. “I think the Lord was looking down on us and, you know, everything worked out. Austin did great. (Thanks to) everybody at RCR for building this truck. It was really fast when we got here, and we made it to Victory Lane.

“I’m headed down here to drink a few,” Harrison said in typical fashion.

Austin Dillon gives crew chief Nick Harrison a hug in Victory Lane at Pocono Raceway in August 2014. (HHP photo/Alan Marler)
Austin Dillon gives crew chief Nick Harrison a hug in Victory Lane at Pocono Raceway in August 2014. (HHP photo/Alan Marler)