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Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch was a distant second, 9.828 seconds back. Third went to another Cup driver and the No. 2 qualifier, Kevin Harvick, who was followed by Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier.
"Austin Dillon, he was just in his own zip code," Busch said. "Congratulations to him. It's been nice to see him develop."
Busch said he thought he had a car that could run down the pole-sitter, but that charge never materialized.
"He was just too strong tonight," Busch said. "He just had that car dialed in. There was nothing we could do."
Harvick, who took over Earnhardt's Sprint Cup ride after Earnhardt's death, said he admired what he had seen out of the young Dillon.
"I'm proud to see Austin and those guys get their first win," he said. "He works hard to make himself better and he's a good kid."
Asked what he thought of seeing the No. 3 car returning to victory lane, Harvick said, "I'm sure it's important to Richard and his family. Richard started with the 3. He and Dale had a lot of success with the 3. So I'm sure it's important to them."
The race was contested in ideal conditions after gusting winds earlier delayed qualifying for the Cup Series.
Rounding out the top 10 were Sam Hornish Jr., Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Sadler and James Buescher, who won the Truck Series race on Thursday night. Keselowski won the Nationwide event a year ago in Kentucky.
The tributes to Dillon came from all quarters after the race.
"I envy his first win," said Danica Patrick, who finished 12th.
Childress beamed as he spoke of his relationship with Earnhardt and what might be for his grandson.
"Austin has come so far," he said. "To watch him tonight, he's so patient. You'd think he's been racing a long time."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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