Austin Dillon poised to advance with a group that ‘has actually turned the nook’
Austin Dillon completed a primary in his NASCAR Cup Sequence profession with a fourth-place end Saturday night time at Richmond Raceway.
A fourth within the Federated Auto Components 400 adopted a runner-up final weekend at Darlington, giving Dillon back-to-back top-five finishes. Dillon had by no means performed that on the Cup stage, the place he’s been full-time since 2014. Extra importantly, the spectacular runs have Dillon and Richard Childress Racing in place to advance to the second spherical of the playoffs as he goes into the elimination race with a 36-point buffer to the cutline.
“I felt our group has actually turned the nook the final couple of weeks,” mentioned Dillon. “I really feel like RCR as an entire has had velocity all yr and between myself, Justin (Alexander, crew chief), our engineer Billy Scott, spotter Brandon (Benesch) and everyone on the store, we’ve acquired a extremely good group.”
Dillon began third and rapidly made his presence identified by taking the lead for the primary time on Lap 21. With a complete of 55 laps led, Dillon additionally set a brand new career-high in laps led in a single race. His earlier greatest was 49 within the first Dover race final month.
The one hiccup on the night time was not getting slowed all the way down to make it onto pit highway with 65 laps to go. Dillon ran one other lap earlier than making his closing pit cease, and despite the fact that he would cycle to the race lead, he was solely capable of maintain off Brad Keselowski for 2 laps.
“We’ve proven a whole lot of velocity this yr and didn’t get the finishes that we deserved,” Dillon continued. “I might return to Martinsville, one other quick monitor. I blew a proper rear, and I got here from useless final like 4 occasions into the highest 5 and by no means went a lap down till I overheated (and needed to get out). I simply suppose a few of the quick tracks we didn’t get to point out what we actually had this yr, so after we noticed the three quick tracks within the first spherical, I used to be fairly assured. Darlington, we did work on a more moderen setup after the primary two races. We felt we have been OK, wanted to get somewhat higher.
“Beginning place is a whole lot of that too — we’ve been capable of begin farther ahead being within the prime 16. However Richmond, I’ve at all times felt like that was what we circled to return win on this playoff run. I had two sixth-place finishes over the previous three races there, and by no means acquired to start out up entrance, needed to come from the again. (Saturday) we introduced one thing much like that, and it was good. I want I wouldn’t have had the rushing penalty, however we overcame that. I’m probably not fearful about that … however simply ought to have been somewhat extra affected person attempting to get to pit highway.
“Both method, what an evening for our group. I’ve been fairly assured on this group all yr, and now it’s beginning to present an increasing number of simply because we’re getting the finishes.”
Dillon didn’t really feel he was good on the quick run however felt untouchable on the long term. Had the race performed out somewhat in a different way, Dillon believes he may need been capable of end second to Keselowski. However he’ll take being within the zone and having folks discuss his group early within the postseason.
“It’s a great time for me and the three group, and everyone at RCR,” mentioned Dillon.
And never solely has the group steadily made their stuff higher, as the one Childress driver within the playoffs, Dillon mentioned it’s been all fingers on deck.
“It’s somewhat stunning,” he mentioned of his current performances. “It’s simply been nice to have quick race automobiles, however for me, I do know that when given that chance, I really feel like our group as a gaggle will step up.”