CONCORD, N.C. — He may have been strong during the opening round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, but round two of the postseason hasn’t been kind to Austin Dillon.
Through races at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Dillon has been hampered by back-to-back mechanical issues, putting him in a must-win situation entering this weekend’s cutoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.
But even sitting 21 points below the cut line, Dillon still has a belief in his team and knows that all it would take is a victory in Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 to move on to the semi-final playoff round.
“At Talladega Superspeedway, I got into every wreck possible. It was just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for most of the day,” Dillon noted. “The week before that, we had a mechanical issue. But through both of those races, my Richard Childress Racing team has been amazing. The communication is unbelievable. They’ve been able to jump right in and fix the damage the last two weeks.
“At Talladega Superspeedway, we changed the oil cooler and only lost two laps. At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we knocked the belts off and only lost eight laps. I don’t know how you can make either of those repairs so fast,” Dillon added. “The communication is great with this team. Even though the last two weeks have been unfortunate, we’re still in the hunt and have a chance to advance to the round of eight.”
Needing a win at the ROVAL isn’t necessarily the best scenario for Dillon, who has an average finish of 25.5 over his last eight Cup Series road course starts dating back to 2017.
The good news for the No. 3 team is that Kaz Grala, who filled in at the Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway road course in August while Dillon was sidelined with COVID-19, earned a seventh-place finish and gave the squad some valuable notes that Dillon hopes will be beneficial in his quest for victory on Sunday.
“We have the ROVAL left in the Round of 12. We just need some help from some of these guys who are higher than us in the point standings, and we have to be in the position to help ourselves some, too,” explained Dillon. “We’re going to rely on our notes from the Daytona Road Course a lot. Kaz Grala was a fill in driver for me that week, and he did a great job. We will try to use that same setup moving forward.
“The ROVAL has never been the greatest track for us, but we’ll see what we can do. We’re going to try our hardest and however the cards fall will be how they fall.”
The NASCAR Cup Series closes the second round of the playoffs Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, with live coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.