Sunday, September 11, 2016

Austin Dillon Set for First Career Chase Run

Austin Dillon raced his way into the Chase for the Sprint Cup on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Dillon locked himself into the Chase with a 13th-place finish on Saturday.  Dillon said he had a stronger car than his finish showed.

Austin Dillon speaks to his crew earlier this season at
Kentucky. Brian Lawdermilk (Getty Images)
"Our goal was to race the 1 [of Jamie McMurray] all night, that's who we needed to race," Dillon said.  "Stayed on his strategy, and finished where we needed to.  I think if we would have played it like a regular race, we'd have had a good shot at a top 10 or top eight."

Dillon, in his third season in the Sprint Cup Series, is having his best season at NASCAR's top level.  He already has more top 5's (4) and top 10's (10) this year with 10 races remaining than he has had in his first two years combined.

With Dillon still winless in his Sprint Cup Series career, crew chief Slugger Labbe said after the race that next weekend's race at Chicagoland is the most important.

"First part of our goal is done," Labbe said on the radio following the checkered flag.  "Focus on Chicago; that's the one we're going to win.  That's the one that matters."

Dillon said he was happy to have a strong sponsor and team behind him heading into his first championship run.

"Proud of this Dow team," Dillon said.  "Dow has stuck by me for three years now.  They've made this such an easy process for me, having a sponsor like them and a partner."

Dillon is now in position to do something no driver has ever done in history: win a Championship in all three of NASCAR's touring series.  Dillon won the 2011 Camping World Truck Series Championship and the 2013 Xfinity Series Championship, and now has the chance to win his first Sprint Cup Series Championship. 

Dillon said the last few weeks have been stressful as a winless driver heading towards the Chase cutoff.

"I'm going to have fun, I've been stressed out for the last three weeks.  Not going to lie, I've lost some sleep."

In post-race interviews, Dillon sounded confident he could contend for a victory next weekend.

"Definitely don't want to be in that situation next year; I want to have a win.  But hopefully our first win comes next week at Chicago."

"Time to have some fun in the Chase."

Chris Graythen (Getty Images)

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