The introduction of the low downforce package in 2016 could lead to a Chase berth for Austin Dillon. It’s a premature assessment but one that’s not without merit.
Dillon is clearly in the midst of his best season start in his Sprint Cup career. His rookie year of 2014 and his sophomore year of 2015 were both disappointing but with this new low downforce setup, he’s done well since finishing ninth at Daytona International Speedway (an event that didn’t use the low downforce package).
Sure, he finished 11th at Atlanta. But with a fifth-place run at Vegas and another ninth-place run at Phoenix, and now a pole at Fontana, Dillon could finally be marking his spot as a Sprint Cup contender. It’s been said that this new downforce package reminds drivers of dirt racing, and keep in mind that Dillon cut his teeth on dirt. He’s been comfortable with the new package, unsurprisingly enough, and with it drivers are finally in control of their own destinies on the track.
This could be an omen of what the rest of the season holds. NASCAR is facing a boon with this new low downforce package, and considering it’s going to basically be a season staple, the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team could finally have a chance to shine on the track. There could even be a win in the numbers, maybe two. It’s hard to argue against them. If in doubt, check out Sunday’s race at Fontana.
Both Austin and his brother Ty catch a lot of flack for being the grandsons of Richard Childress. In their position, it’s all but guaranteed that they received a lifetime of assistance to become NASCAR stars. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re both extremely talented drivers who happen to be very good at taking care of their cars and, at least, being consistent.
In Austin’s case, that consistency has paid off with this season’s start, and if he keeps at it, it will continue to pay off. He’s got good tracks coming up including Kansas, Charlotte and Michigan, and a few not-so-good tracks that he will probably thrive at, like Texas. This is a different driver of the No. 3 that the sport is seeing in 2016.
With Slugger Labbe on top of the pit box and Dillon behind the wheel, it’s looking like it would be tough to be against that RCR No. 3 in 2016, and it’s a promise that Dillon will prove that he belongs in the Sprint Cup Series and in the Chase come September.