Austin Dillon Enters Richmond Raceway Needing A Momentum Boostby Hunter Thomas April 18, 2021 0 comments
RICHMOND, Va. – Austin Dillon has been just on the cusp of having a really competitive season, and he heads into Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway hoping that a solid finish will give the team the extra boost they need to advance in the standings.
So far this season, Dillon has only pieced together two top-10 finishes: a third-place effort in the Daytona 500 and a sixth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway. However, Dillon has three other finishes just outside of the top-10, so the team has been competitive, but they just need the finishes to reflect the effort. He currently sits 12th in the standings, just eight points behind Christopher Bell who is 10th. Richmond is a short track where veteran drivers seem to prevail, but over the past few years, Dillon has found success at the 0.75-mile D-shaped oval.
“It’s a tough place,” Dillon said. “I think at Richmond, you look at the people that run well that – there’s a lot of people that have been racing in NASCAR for a long time. A lot of the veterans do well there. I think the hardest part is learning how to adjust to that track; making the right adjustments throughout a run because it kind of just tricks you a little bit. It can because you start on a green track sometimes and rubber gets laid down. But I found something I felt like that worked for me along the line and I’ve just kind of stuck to it. Same with the setup – Justin (Alexander, Crew Chief) has done a good job of finding a setup that works for our RCR No. 3 Chevrolet. We’ll get after it.”
Richmond Raceway historically hasn’t been the best track for Dillon. He averages a 17.5 average finish at the track, but in the past four races, Dillon has greatly improved his results as he has earned three top-10 finishes, including a fourth last year. Dillon also led 55 laps last fall, his first-ever at Richmond. On Sunday, he will start in the 11th position in the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet, so he will begin the Toyota Owners 400 in great position to battle up front early.
“We had a really strong run last year there and I sped on pit road in the Playoffs,” Dillon said. “So, it was what kind of locked us into that second round, was the solidifying after Darlington going to Richmond and having a good run. We really looked at everything we did last year and didn’t change a whole lot. But we went back over some things in the simulator and I think it should be a good one. Obviously, starting 11th helps. We have a good pit stall and we’re just going to go after it. We need to lock ourselves into the Playoffs or better ourselves in points this weekend.”
Sunday’s race at Richmond will be run during the afternoon. With temperatures in the upper 60s, the track will get hot, but the cloud cover throughout the day may keep the elements at a reasonable level for the drivers.
“We have some day-race experience and we can look back on that stuff,” Dillon said. “Each year, NASCAR has subtly changed packages. This is the first year where we’ve had the same package back-to-back. Heat factors into every race track; the temperature. So, we’ll definitely try to make the best adjustments we can to keep up with the track. Hopefully what we have in it right now is just a good starting place and we don’t have to do a whole lot.”
Earning a solid finish at Richmond will be important before the NASCAR Cup Series visits Talladega Superspeedway where anything can happen.
The Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway will broadcast live on FOX and MRN at 3 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com