By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
On Saturday morning, Richard Childress Racing announced that Austin Dillon had tested positive for COVID-19.
The driver of the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will sit out of the historic Go Bowling 235 at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course. RCR will have their part-time NASCAR Xfinity Series driver, Kaz Grala, make his Cup Series debut on Sunday.
Grala is scheduled to start the race from the 10th position. However, since it is a driver change, he will drop to the rear prior to the green flag.
Richard Childress Racing posted a statement on Twitter about Dillon’s diagnosis and to explain that his wife, Whitney, and son, Ace, are symptom free:
Competition update regarding the No. 3 car. pic.twitter.com/MUq0PqpSVy
— RCR (@RCRracing) August 15, 2020
This marks the first time that Dillon will miss a Cup Series race since the 2013 season. He entered 17th in the points standings but was locked into the playoffs via his win at Texas Motor Speedway.
Dillon can return to the car if he is symptom free and tests negative for COVID-19 twice, 24 hours apart, and has a clearance from his physician. After 10 days if he has not tested negative, his status would be reviewed by a NASCAR consulting physician.
21-year-old Grala is an experienced road racer. In NASCAR competition, he has eight starts on road courses in the National Series. Grala has two top-five and three top-10 finishes in the Xfinity Series on road courses. In the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, he has one top-five, a third-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Grala also has three top-five finishes on road courses in the ARCA Menards Series East. He also has two starts in the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Grala posted a video on Twitter to explain that he’s just keeping the seat warm for Dillon while acknowledging the big opportunity ahead of him:
I wish @AustinDillon3 a speedy recovery while I keep his seat warm this weekend in the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet. I hope to make everyone @RCRracing proud during these unfortunate circumstances. pic.twitter.com/a9QNKDBege
— Kaz Grala (@KazGrala) August 15, 2020
The Go Bowling 235 is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, August 16.