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Austin Dillon’s weekend again marred by failed inspection

[media-credit name=”Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Austin Dillon’s weekend at the Daytona International Speedway started with him defending his Kentucky win after his car failed post race inspection. It ended with him again having to defend his team after another failed inspection.

On Thursday Dillon stated the loose bolt on his winning No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet was not an advantage, nor intentional. It was something that happened during the course of the event and while some might take away from his win, he was confident that the true racers knew what happened.

Then on Friday he went out and laid down the fastest lap in qualifying. The pole would have been the third of his career and second straight. That was until Dillon’s car went through post qualifying inspection and was found to have an open cooling hose in the cockpit.

The car failed under section 20A-2.1J, the rule that stipulates what teams can do with the ductwork. It’s a no-no because it can be an aerodynamic advantage. Dillon’s time was disallowed, the pole award given to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., with Dillon moving to the rear of the field. He would however, get to keep his selection of pit stall since those had already been taken care of.

Speaking after the race was over Dillon acknowledged that his team made a mistake. But said that while crew chief Danny Stockman is already on probation because of trouble back in April with front bumper covers, and last weekend in Kentucky, he doesn’t see any serious penalties coming from NASCAR this week.

“I’m not concerned,” he said. “I think there was another car that went through tech and had the same problem we did and they caught it before they went through inspection. I wish they would have caught ours because it was a mistake that we made.

“The guys are from the Truck Series and you don’t have to tape up the duct inside. The hosed that was untapped was right beside to my AC hose and my AC hose wasn’t hooked either. It was a bummer because it was another mistake; it’s two in a row. It’s not fun and I know my grandfather [owner Richard Childress] was upset with the guys.

“It sucks because the guys work so hard, making these mistakes it’s just like, man we’ve go to stop doing that, we’ve got to be on our game. We were able to recover tonight; I think this was a good one for the guys. Have a torn up car, they’re not going to be fun fixing that but I’m sure they’ll be happy to after the last two weeks and things that have gone on after tech and stuff.”

When the green flag flew in Friday night’s Subway Jalapeno 250 Dillon had to come from the back of the field, 42nd. It never worried him though, knowing he had a fast enough car to eventually get to the front. It was all about making the right moves and finding the right drafting partners. Just as the team had done all season, it was about staying focused and being there at the end.

By halfway he was 16th and charging. The Big One at lap 65 took out 16 cars, but not Dillon. Having positioned himself just right that he was able to work his way through the mess and into contention. He was sitting third by lap 75.

Finally Dillon found the lead, on four different occasions for eight laps.

“It was a wild race, I think everybody going into it knew it was going to be like that,” Dillon said. “We were three wide for quite a while in that pack and the big one happened and my spotter Andy Houston did a great job. He did a good job of just ensuring me where to go and that kept our car clean and let us finish the race.”

A debris caution would set up the race’s conclusion, a green-white-checkered finish. Suddenly Dillon went from pushing eventual winner Kurt Busch and looking to make a move on the last lap, to being pushed by Michael Annett as the two tried to overtake Busch and Stenhouse.

“Coming down to the end it was great working with Kurt Busch, didn’t want to see that caution we had broken away from the pack a little bit there and it had us out front,” recalled Dillon. “And when it all happened there I got to thank Michael he did a great job of pushing me and sticking with me and when it comes to that you’re fighting for everything to get someone to go with you and somebody to trust and Michael did a good job of that. I wanted to thank him.”

It was only fitting for Dillon that with the way his week and weekend had gone it ended just as crazy. Just yards from the finish line, being pushed by Annett to a third place finish, Dillon spun through the grass. He ended up finishing fourth.

No harm, no foul though. The two laughed and talked about it afterwards. Both saying how happy they were to come away with top five finishes. As well as being two of the four drivers qualified for next weekend’s Dash4Cash $100,000 bonus at New Hampshire.

Even better for Dillon, he remains second in the NNS point standings. But has moved to within two points of leader and teammate Elliott Sadler. That’s barring any further penalties this coming week.

“It’s cool to be qualified for the Dash4Cash,” Dillon said. “It’s not fun coming across the checkered spinning out but we did it in the best fashion you can. And I told [ESPN] there’s not better feeling then coming to Daytona and coming to the checkered and having a run on the two leaders there at the end.

“We had a heck of a run going and Ricky blocked and I tried to cross him up and got hooked a little bit. I probably should have wedged it in there and crashed everybody. I got hooked back left. It was a fun race, that was a awesome feeling coming to it. I was smiling that whole last lap.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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