Austin Dillon came within a lap of a runner-up finish at Michigan Sunday. Dillon, who had not had a top 5 finish since his win in the season opening Daytona 500, was comfortably in second in the final laps after pit strategy put him at the front. Coming to the white flag however a vibration forced Dillon to slow. He held on to finish fourth.
“I had an awful vibration there with two (laps) to go and it was like the tire was unraveling or the lugnuts were coming loose,” Dillon said. “I just wanted to bring back a good finish, we really needed that.”
The entire RCR organization and indeed Chevrolet needed it.
The good news for the team starting on Friday when Dillon qualified fifth just ahead of his teammate Ryan Newman.
Newman had a dramatic day of his own.
He was running just outside the top 10 early in the race when a brush with the wall led to a blown tire led to a spin and the race’s fifth caution on lap 74. The blown tire damaged a brake line that force Newman in for repairs. He fought his way back and thanks to pit strategy was leading in the final laps. He was forced to pit with 12 laps to go however when a hoped for caution failed to materialize.
After leading 12 laps, Newman finished 15th.
“It was a good rebound of a day for the Grainger Chevrolet,” Newman said. “I barely caught the wall off of (Turn) 4 in some dirty air there. It basically rubbed a hole in the right rear tire. Had, I guess, probably the save of the day going 290 into Turn 1 it felt like and just lost a brake line, recouped from that and the guys did a good job of fixing it. My fault, I stuck it in the fence in the first place. A good rebound, but not near where we should have finished. Good run for Austin and his team.”
Whether that rebound continues remains to be seen.
“It’s great momentum for the team,” Dillon said. “It just feels good. We have this capability when we put our best days together and we’ve got to keep doing it and work hard. And we’ve got a great opportunity this year with being in the Playoffs.”