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Kickin The Tires

Ty Dillon earns first non-superspeedway top-10 at Las Vegas

Photo by Rachel Schuoler / Kickin' the Tires

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

A chaotic two-lap scramble earned Ty Dillon his first NASCAR Cup Series top-10 finish away from a superspeedway.

A caution with five laps to go for Ross Chastain set-up a natural ‘green-white-checkered’ finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Germain Racing crew chief Matt Borland opted to bring the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet Camaro ZLE 1LE to pit road for fresh tires. Dillon was one of 18 cars that pitted. That placed the Welcome, N.C. native 19th on the restart.

Entering turn one, contact between Matt DiBenedetto and William Byron cut a tire down on Byron’s No. 24. As the Hendrick Motorsports driver plummeted through the field in the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube, Ty Dillon jockeyed for position. He avoided not one, but two incidents coming to the white flag.

Ryan Blaney, Byron, and Erik Jones collided on the outside, worsening Byron’s tire rub. At the same time, Kyle Busch and John Hunter Nemechek banged doors. That send Nemechek’s No. 38 spinning to the inside. Dillon shot through the middle of the frontstretch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He was 10th when the race-ending caution waved.

“It’s nuts,” exclaimed the 27-year old. “It’s three to four-wide every single restart, and you just got to find the lane with a little momentum. What’s crazy is that it’s never the same. I think I restarted 19th, went through the middle and we ended up 10th.

“We just started passing cars. You just got to find a lane, and you’re trying to process things at such a high rate of speed. You just have to be committed to where you’re going.”

“These cars aren’t the toughest, so any damage can really put you behind,” Dillon continued. “You have to be patient all throughout the race, and even at the end of a race like that, you have to kind of weigh your options hoping that this is going to be the final restart.

“If you do get some damage, you’ll be okay, but there were some guys who got damage and didn’t make it back around. You just got to be smart when you have a clean run like we did.”

Prior to the last-lap scramble, Ty Dillon was mired outside the top-15, running behind older brother Austin Dillon in the Pennzoil 400. The duo often found themselves battling defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch and Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin.

The top-10 finish for the Germain Racing driver at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is just the fifth of Ty Dillon’s NASCAR Cup Series career. His previous four top-10 finishes came at Daytona International Speedway (three times) and Talladega Superspeedway.

Dillon recognized that the top-10 is a high bar to set early in the season:

“We just set a pretty high bar, so that was really fun getting our first top 10 of the year. Feel like we’ve deserved a top-10 at Daytona as well as we ran there, so to get it back in gear here at Vegas — a track we’ve been really awful at. I’m really excited for the future of our Germain Racing Geico Camaro, and I think we’re going to have a fun year, and hopefully some more just like today.”

For the younger Dillon, the top-10 finish moves him from 29th in the championship points standings to 23rd following the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube.

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