Dillon nears first win, gets second Dash 4 Cash
July 21, 2013, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
JOLIET, Ill. -- Austin Dillon has been agonizingly close to his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season. Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, he came up just short again but his wallet certainly enjoyed the six-figure consolation prize.
Dillon started and finished third in Sunday’s STP 300, collecting the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus from the series sponsor for the second consecutive race. He emerged as the highest finisher from a quartet of eligible drivers, outrunning Brian Vickers (fifth), Brian Scott (11th) and Michael Annett (16th).
Dillon raced among the top five for the bulk of the day, moving up to lead 24 laps in the second half of the 200-lapper. The Richard Childress Racing driver credited not only a No. 3 Chevrolet that was fast from the get-go, but also his team’s ability to adjust to changing track conditions.
“We had a good car today,” Dillon said. “Started off a little free and made a big swing at it at the beginning, and gave some track position up for that. That turned out to really help. We went right to second. We just got behind one adjustment at the end on the second-to-last run, it was too loose off Turn 2, and we made another adjustment at the end that made it good again. We’re getting closer, inching closer and closer.”
Dillon also qualified himself for the final round of the Dash 4 Cash incentive program, joining race runner-up Sam Hornish Jr., fourth-place Elliott Sadler and fifth-place Vickers as the eligible Nationwide regulars this Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sunday’s result just south of the Windy City gave Dillon a lift in the big-picture view, marking his fourth straight top-10 finish. He remained third in the standings, but was able to cut his deficit off the lead from 12 points to eight.
Dillon will be pulling double duty at Indy, making his first Sprint Cup start at the historic 2.5-mile track. On the Nationwide side, he hopes the head of steam he has built in the last few weeks helps him improve upon the fifth-place finish he scored at Indy in 2012.
“I think it’s good to have momentum going into a big debut at the Brickyard,” Dillon said. “It’s going to definitely be a big learning experience for me going there the first time in a Cup car. I’ve been there once in a Nationwide car. But yeah, it’s a big confidence booster and our cars have been fast in the Nationwide Series.
“We just keep inching on this first win. We’re getting closer and closer. These top-threes, we’ll take 'em all day, just we want to get that win here pretty soon.”