Dillon shows speed, frustration in mixed Michigan day
June 15, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- It was frustration, Austin Dillon said, that led to contact between himself and Joey Logano during the latter stages of Saturday’s Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan International Speedway.
And that led to a brief conversation between the two on pit road after the conclusion of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
“He was frustrated back there,” Dillon, 20th, said of his Sprint Cup Series counterpart. “… We were both frustrated because things didn’t go our way.
“But we’ll come back and do our best to gain on what we’ve lost today. Just a bummer day.”
The contact came during a final, furious push to the checkered flag in the 125-lap event.
Dillon, who led 61 of the race’s first 68 laps, was charging toward the front, having rebounded from a lost lap due to a flat left-rear tire.
Logano, who led 30 laps (69-98) was in a scramble mode as well, a round of pit stops and differing pit strategies taking him from the point to just inside the top 10.
“We were three-wide on the bottom, I had the run, my nose was in front of his,” Dillon said. “I drove in deep and slid up and he was frustrated because I slid up in the middle of the corner.
“We came off side-by-side off of (Turn) 2, got midway down the backstretch and he just turned left on me.”
The contact knocked the fender in on the tire, he said, and led to another flat for the Richard Childress Racing driver, sending him back to pit road inside the final five laps.
With the race past the midpoint, and threatening skies overhead, Logano and his Penske team had wagered on a rain-shortened event, gaining track position under caution by staying on the track.
The rain, though, didn’t come until after the completion of the race.
“Unfortunately we gambled … and went for it,” Logano said. “It is just unfortunate and frustrating. I don’t even know where we finished but once you get back there in the pack, it is just a mess trying to pass cars here.”
The 11th-place finish halted a four-race run of top-five finishes for Logano, who won two weeks ago at Dover, Del.
Dillon began the day by winning a series-record fourth consecutive Coors Light Pole Award. But for the second consecutive week, a strong run went awry. At Iowa, he led 207 of 250 laps but lost the lead, and the win to Trevor Bayne with 12 laps remaining.
Although he maintained his fourth-place points position, Dillon now trails points leader, and Michigan race winner, Regan Smith by 67 points. He entered the race trailing by 46.
“We work hard to build fast race cars and the strategy we were on wasn’t wrong,” he said. “We had the right strategy there at the end. The seven (of Smith) and 32 (of Kyle Larson) finished 1-2 on that strategy.
“The speed was there. I’m really proud of my guys. It’s frustrating; we’ve got a monkey on our back and we’ve got to get it off.”