This time, a two-tire call pays off for Austin Dillon
NASCAR Wire Service
— On Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Austin Dillon disproved the colloquial definition of insanity—trying the same thing and expecting different results.
Last week at Charlotte, Dillon took two tires on a late pit stop and wrecked when Martin Truex Jr.’ s attempt to push him on a restart went awry.
But late in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas, there was Dillon again, taking two tires and taking the lead for a restart on Lap 226.
This time the strategy worked. Though Dillon’s No. 3 Richard Childress
KANSAS CITY, KAN.
Racing Chevrolet lost positions on the restart, a quick caution on Lap 233 allowed him to pit for tires and propelled him to a sixth-place finish.
The result left Dillon tied for eighth in the Chase standings with third-place finisher Joey Logano and back in the game as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads for the Round of 12 elimination race next Sunday at Talladega.
“I had no real concern,” Dillon said of the late twotire call. “I was more concerned at Charlotte than here. I knew that two tires, as far as firing off, was going to be OK through the gears. (AJ) Allmendinger and a couple of them did it, fired off and ran third there for a while.
“Our cars, we never put two tires on in practice or anything. Made it through the first lap, and I went into Turn 1 in third (gear), and the right front just plowed on exit. I actually almost got run over on the exit of (Turn) 2…
“We ended up finishing about where we were going to finish anyways, because we got four tires on the next (stop). It made us make the decision to come get four, drag people down. We ran about to where we were going to finish.”
But it was good enough to rekindle Dillon’s prospects of advancing to the next round.
Logano atones for Charlotte catastrophe
Joey Logano got the absolute most from his No. 22 Team Penske Ford on Sunday, and, as was the case with Austin Dillon, a strong run at Kansas put Logano in position to ad- vance in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a solid performance next Sunday at Talladega.
Logano didn’t have a car to compete for the win on Sunday, but he ran third behind Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards to ameliorate the effects of a 36thplace finish at Charlotte a week earlier. Logano goes to Talladega tied for the last transfer spot with the Chase field to be cut there from 12 drivers to eight.
“Yeah, we came out swinging,” Logano said after the race. “It’s what we had to do. We did everything we were supposed to do today. Our team executed perfectly. So I’m proud of our pit stops, our adjustments, our restarts. Just needed a little bit more speed.
“That was probably the biggest thing. We were a little bit off on the short run. You know, after 15 laps or so, we were as good as anybody, but we weren’t better than them, so we couldn’t make up what we were losing on the restarts.
“We made up a lot of points, just not enough. It’s not comfortable. Austin and I are tied for next week, so that will be fun. So overall, I’m proud of the effort and the job we did today. We wanted to win, but we did everything we were supposed to do.”
Elliott has his marching orders for Talladega
After disastrous results in the first two races of the Chase’s Round of 12, Chase Elliott will be on a win-or-bust mission next Sunday at Talladega.
It’s not that Elliott has run poorly. At Charlotte, he led 103 laps before being swept up in a late wreck not of his making.
In Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, he passed eventual race winner Kevin Harvick for the lead on Lap 169, only to see his winning chances disintegrate six laps later when he returned to pit road for an unscheduled stop after a tire rub flattened his left rear.
Two subsequent brushes with the wall applied the coup de grace, and Elliott came home 31st, leaving him 12th in the Chase standings and 25 points out of eighth with only Talladega left before the cut from 12 Chase drivers to eight.
“I don’t know if we got the left rear getting up on the race track or something, and it got into the fender and cut it down,” Elliott said of the original problem. “I don’t know what to do, man. We were trying as hard as we can. We had such a good car today again, and... I don’t know what to do. Just keep after it and try to move on.”
“I just will go there (Talladega) and race our hearts out and try to win, I guess. That’s about all we can do. We have something to be proud of in the way we’ve been running. There are just some things we can’t control. I don’t know how to fix that stuff… We’re bummed, but what do you do? You just have to move on.”
Austin Dillon sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 6 in Charlotte, N.C.