Sunday, November 29, 2020
Home Sport Motorsport 'Overlooked' playoff driver Austin Dillon stars in Southern 500

‘Overlooked’ playoff driver Austin Dillon stars in Southern 500

Dillon practically ran down race winner Kevin Harvick within the closing laps and completed a formidable second within the first race of the 2020 playoffs, placing himself 10 factors above the minimize line.

The end result was simply his third top-five of the season, but it surely could not have come at a greater time. He began the race from the rear of the sphere after a tire mix-up and gathered simply three stage factors earlier than surging to the entrance within the ultimate run of the evening.

When Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. collided within the combat for the race lead, Dillon all of a sudden discovered himself with an actual shot on the win as he closed in on Harvick. He got here simply 0.343s shy of Harvick on the end after a spectacular last-lap cost, inserting increased than 14 of his 15 playoff rivals.

“I get overlooked some, probably more than most, I don’t know why.” stated Dillon post-race. “I always feel like I perform pretty well in pressure situations, and RCR as a whole can step up. I have total belief in the No. 3 team and probably more belief this year than I’ve ever had because we’ve brought consistent speed to the track, and we might not have gotten every finish that we should have gotten this year but we’ve gotten a lot of good finishes. It’s been one of my best years statistically and just the ability behind the cars are better.”

Battling adversity

It wasn’t simple for RCR and Dillon Sunday at Darlington with the group mired deep within the pack early within the race.

“Man, we battled. This team, we’ve had a motto all year; it’s been “FIDO,” forget it and drive on, and that’s what we kind showed that example tonight,” defined Dillon.

“We just battled. We didn’t take off very good the first 25 laps. (Crew chief) Justin Alexander made a great adjustment, kind of really went at it, freed up the car, and that next run we took off and I felt like we were pretty good.  I had a punctured right rear and was able to catch it in the middle of that first stage.  We short‑pitted because I had to because the right rear was going flat, and man, the good Lord blessed us tonight.  Caught a lot of breaks, truthfully.  When that right rear was going down, we caught it.  Went back out, gained a lot of track position because we were on good tires, and the caution fell for us in a good spot.

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“Took again off and simply sort of obtained tousled on that restart, misplaced slightly bit, after which was in a position to simply steadily work our means again to the entrance all evening lengthy after which get inside that high 10.  Had some nice pit stops from our 3 group.  The American Ethanol Chevy was actually good once we sort of obtained to some extent why I did not actually know what to do to it aside from to only slowly tighten it up, and I want I’d have made just a bit bit extra of an adjustment.  You may inform my final nook I had burned the precise rear off of it attempting to get there, and that is sort of the place we have been.  We have been just a bit free.  We had corded a proper rear earlier within the race.

Crown Jewels

Dillon is not any stranger to the crown jewels of NASCAR, having scored his first Cup win within the 2017 Coca Cola 600 — the game’s longest race. In 2018, he emerged victorious within the Daytona 500.

“We’ve been working hard,” he added. “We worked hard in the sim this week to make the car take off better.  It’s an older setup that we’ve run here a long time, and we just adjusted it, tweaked it a little bit to take off a little better, and that’s what we’ve wanted, and it did, and that helped us keep our track position and ultimately gave us a shot at a Southern 500.  So close to one of the crown jewels again. I like winning those things.”

The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Richmond Raceway earlier than closing out Round 1 of the playoffs at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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