Austin Dillon will pilot Chassis No. 118 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series stable. This is the same Chevrolet Dillon drove to a sixth-place finish after starting second at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and a third-place finish after starting second at Chicagoland Speedway in September.
Dillon in the Lone Star State … Dillon earned a fifth-place finish after starting fourth in his lone Nationwide Series start at Texas Motor Speedway in April. In four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at TMS, Dillon has earned two top-five finishes, one pole award and led 76 laps, acquiring a third-place average starting position and a 14th-place average finish position.
The Season So Far … According to NASCAR’s Season-to-Date Loop Data Statistics, Dillon has completed 96.36 percent of Laps on the Lead Lap, ranking him second among all competitors. The Nationwide Series rookie has completed 91.8 percent of his Laps in the Top 15, ranking him second and has an Average Running Position of 8.306 in the season’s 30 contested Nationwide Series races, ranking him second. He is ranked third in the Fastest Laps Run category with 431 laps so far this season, maintains a Driver Rating of 105.7, ranking him third, has the fourth-fastest Speed in Traffic, is fourth-Fastest on Restarts and has 419 Laps Led this season, ranking him fourth. He is the fifth-Fastest Driver Late in a Run and ranks fifth in Quality Passes with 1026. He has the sixth-fastest Green Flag Speed and is the seventh-fastest Driver Early in a Run.
Get to the Points … Dillon ranks third in the 2012 Nationwide Series driver championship point standings, trailing current point leader and RCR teammate Elliott Sadler by 26 points. The Welcome, N.C., driver currently leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings over Cole Whitt.
Kansas Speedway Recap … Dillon earned a second-place finish on the newly-repaved Kansas Speedway, maintaining his rank as the Nationwide Series driver with the best average finishing position on 1.5-mile tracks. Dillon started the scheduled 200-lap race from the second position, led five laps and ran the entire event within the top 15 before finishing second as several teams ran out of fuel on the last lap.
What are your thoughts on racing at Texas Motor Speedway? “I feel really good about Texas Motor Speedway. That’s a place where we can go out and have a shot to win. I’ve led a lot of laps there in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and our team was able to learn a lot by competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in the spring. The biggest issue our team faced in the beginning of the year was lack of experience at some of the tracks on the schedule since we are all rookies in the Nationwide Series. Now that we are visiting tracks on the schedule for the second time, we have a notebook to work off of which has made us faster. Richard Childress Racing’s intermediate track package is strong and I think we’ll have a great shot- once again- to run up front and get a top-five finish. Texas Motor Speedway is very fast but I like the grip levels there. You feel pretty good at that track unless your car is handling bad. A bad car there can make for a long day. I think Danny Stockman and the crew will have us fixed up and ready to go and hopefully we will be comfortable driving around there and contend for the win.”
You’re familiar with Texas Motor Speedway and the remaining tracks on the schedule. That must be comforting to you …“I know the tracks–that’s the biggest thing–and how to get around them. I think in these NASCAR Nationwide Series cars we have a great shot at winning at Texas Motor Speedway. I think it will be a battle between our RCR cars and the Roush Fenway Racing cars. Texas Motor Speedway is a great place for us and I think it’s going to be a wild race. The mile-and-a-halves have been crazy and you never know what is going to happen at Texas Motor Speedway. The way the track is configured it brings everyone’s competition level up so everyone is competitive and anything can happen. Phoenix International Raceway was really good for us earlier this year. I finished third and Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. both ran well there, so it will be between the three of us at PIR. I think Texas Motor Speedway is a good race track for us to make up some ground. Somebody is going to capitalize that weekend and its going to turn the points around. We just have to stay in contention, and if we can do that for the rest of the season I will be happy with our season. I’m pretty much locked into third place right now with three races remaining in the season. All I have to do is gain. That’s the only place I can go – Forward. We’re going to work hard as a team. We’re bringing great race cars to the track for the end of the season. We’re doing a good job of finishing up front. I think our average finish the last three races is fourth or fifth-place so we are going to keep it up.”
How do you feel about your chances at winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship this year? “We’re still in this championship hunt but it is so hard to gain points in the NASCAR Nationwide Series because the top competitors finish so close to each other each week. You never know what is going to happen coming down to the last three races on the schedule, but I can say for sure that our No. 3 team will be giving 110 percent. We need to gain maximum points and the only way to do that is to win races. Our team has had the best average finish on 1.5-mile tracks but we need that little bit extra in order to get to Victory Lane. We’ve had fast cars each week and I think if we can put together wins the last few races we will have a chance at the championship.”