Austin Dillon Finds a Lot to Like at Michigan—Despite Loose Wheel

Austin Dillon, the driver of the #3 Dow WE Are Innovators Chevrolet, leads Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 12, 2018, in Brooklyn, Michigan. Photo – Jerry Markland/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway, but Austin Dillon made the save of the day.

The save that allowed Dillon to post his first top-five finish since winning the Daytona 500 in February wasn’t a sudden, spur-of-the moment thing. In fact, it took more than a lap to accomplish, as Dillon nursed his car around the 2.0-mile track with enough speed to finish fourth, keeping Ryan Blaney behind him.

Dillon was running second to Harvick and approaching the white flag when he felt a vibration in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. He slowed, and Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch sped past.

But thanks to a two-tire call on his final pit stop, Dillon was far enough ahead of Blaney that he could hold the fourth position at the finish.

The driver’s elation at the newfound speed in his car far overshadowed the disappointment of losing two positions.

“Man, we had a fast car,” Dillon said. “I got to battle with Harvick there, and that was awesome. I’m so proud of the guys for having a car capable of doing that. Yeah, that really stunk. We were kind of in position that if something happened to the No. 4, we could win the race.

“With two (laps) to go, I went into (turn) three, and I kind of missed the corner. When I came down the straightaway, it was just shaking like either the tire was unraveling, or it was a loose wheel. I didn’t want to lose this great finish we had in front of us, but we brought it home with a top-five at least.”

RCR gave Dillon a new chassis for the Michigan race, and it showed.

“It’s huge,” Dillon said. “It’s great momentum for the team. The pit crew was amazing all day. 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.”