Austin Dillon embraces underdog role

Austin Dillon prepares to practice Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Getty Images)
Austin Dillon prepares to practice Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Getty Images)
Austin Dillon prepares to practice Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Getty Images)

CONCORD, N.C. – It doesn’t matter to Austin Dillon that Las Vegas oddsmakers have made him a 50-to-1 shot to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, by far the longest odds among the 12 remaining drivers.

After finishing eighth last Sunday at Dover and earning the final transfer spot from the Chase’s Round of 16, Dillon believes his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet has the speed to pull off a surprise in the Round of 12.

“Well, we have the least odds in Vegas right now – I just heard that,” Dillon said on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I like this role, because it puts the pressure on the guys that I guess are projected to make it to the next round, whatever projections mean.

“Because in racing, I’ve learned real quick that it’s not like any other sport… You just never know what can happen in a race, and you never know what the outcomes… there is so much that goes into every little piece and part of these cars.

“I’m confident in the company I drive for with RCR and the people around me, myself also, that we can make strong finishes, and that is what I’m confident about. I love the underdog role, because that makes when we do knock people out, it’s going to be fulfilling.”

For the record, Kevin Harvick is the Vegas favorite to win the Chase at 7-to-2 odds (per vegasinsider.com). Martin Truex Jr. is second at 4-to-1 and Jimmie Johnson third at 6-to-1.

SHORT STROKES

Katelyn Sweet, girlfriend of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson, won Thursday’s 25-lap Better Half Dash at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which raised more than $70,000 for charity. Paige White, girlfriend of 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, finished second, with Hayley Dillon, wife of NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon, running third despite spinning twice…

Charlotte-based Maaco, a collision and repair company, has signed on with Furniture Row Racing as an associate sponsor on Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Toyota for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Truex led a NASCAR-record 588-of-600 miles in winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in May. In Saturday night’s race, he goes for his third victory in four Chase races, having triumphed at Chicagoland and Dover in the Chase’s Round of 16.

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