Austin Dillon optimistic as summer races approach

You could call Austin Dillon and the members of the No. 3 Richard Childress racing team the “Boys of Summer.”

Not that they had an uneventful winter—far from it. Dillon won the season-opening Daytona 500, all but assuring him a place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff.

Since then, however, the No. 3 team has faced its share of challenges, generally from a lack of speed. The bottom line, however, is that Dillon has finished on the lead lap in only two of the nine races after the Daytona 500 and has fallen to 17 in the series standings.

But Dillon expects his fortunes to change in the upcoming stretch of races. In three weeks he’ll be racing at Charlotte, where he picked up his first career victory in last year’s Coca-Cola 600.

“This next group of tracks are some of my favorite tracks,” Dillon said. “You’ve got Charlotte, Kansas, Dover, and we always seem to gain points during the summer time. If you look back at my stats, my summers are really good as far as being consistent—and, truthfully, we have been decent all year long.

“We haven’t had the speed, and there are reasons for the speed not being there, I feel like. As far as Chevy as a whole right now, we’re working to find the speed. But the execution, I’m not disappointed with the execution of our races, just disappointed with the next group of cars we need to catch. If you walk through the garage you can see the trailers where the speed is, because we park in order.”

Dillon got a birds-eye view of Dover on Saturday, serving as a guest analyst during the FS1 broadcast of the NASCAR Xfinity race at the Monster Mile.

SHORT STROKES

Ford drivers led both Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practices on Saturday, with Joey Logano topping the first session at 157.494 mph and Aric Almirola setting the fastest lap ion Happy Hour at 158.277 mph…

Two different Fords paced the field in consecutive 10-lap average, with Brad Keselowski fastest in the first Saturday practice at 156.399 mph and Clint Bowyer best in final practice at 155.880 mph. Bowyer ran 65 laps in happy Hour, tops for the session.

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