This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.
Richard Childress Racing scored a 1-2 finish for the first time since 2011 when Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick survived three late restarts to finish Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The win boosted Dillon from just outside the playoff positions to a guaranteed spot in the championship battle. The pair took advantage of a caution that stuck many of the race's fastest cars in traffic for the final miles. Ryan Blaney, who dominated much of the afternoon to that point, led more than 100 laps in the race but didn't win for the second time at the track. Dillon and Reddick had the pace to race at the front of the field and took advantage of the opportunity that presented itself to hold off the charging field and cap off a brilliant day for the team that has shown serious pace many times this season.
Kansas Speedway hosts a Thursday night race this week for the NASCAR Cup series contenders. Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin won at the track last season, and both of those drivers were in contention for the win at Texas, too. With eight races remaining in the regular season the battle for the final playoff positions continues to heat up. Jimmie Johnson did just enough to take a one-point advantage over teammate William Byron from a rough Texas afternoon, but with four drivers within 25 points of that final playoff position the action is sure to grow even more intense.