Wreck in practice forces Chaser Austin Dillon to backup car

Austin Dillon practices Friday at New Hampshire. (Getty Images)
Austin Dillon practices Friday at New Hampshire. (Getty Images)
Austin Dillon practices Friday at New Hampshire. (Getty Images)

LOUDON, N.H. – A wreck in practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the last thing Austin Dillon needed.

After a 14th-place finish last Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in the first race of the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Dillon needs a strong run at New Hampshire to escape the bottom four in the standings.

But with the Round of 16 elimination race looming Oct. 1 at Dover, Dillon had his weekend start catastrophically at the Magic Mile, site of Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

On his ninth lap in opening practice at NHMS, the driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet posted his fastest lap at 132.813 mph, but that was only 32nd quickest among the 40 drivers. Dillon ran only one more lap before flattening the right side of his Chevy against the outside wall and damaging the car beyond repair.

“I just tried to get some speed in the car, and it didn’t work out, truthfully, is what I think happened,” Dillon said. “I don’t know. The brakes were bothering me a little bit throughout the day, but I think it was just me trying to get some.”

Out rolled the backup car, which couldn’t be readied before practice ended. Consequently, Dillon was faced with the prospect of qualifying the car – at a relatively flat speedway where track position is of paramount importance – with no seat time whatsoever.

Consequently, the hole Dillon dug for himself at Chicagoland suddenly became the Grand Canyon.

The good news for Dillon is that the race for the top 12 in points is extremely tight. Carl Edwards is ninth in the standings, but just five points ahead of Dillon and Kevin Harvick, who are tied for 13th and just one point behind 12th-place Tony Stewart.

With such a tightly bunched field, Dillon can move up with a strong showing at New Hampshire, but he can’t afford another glitch in his program. He qualified his back-up car  29th late Friday.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.