The first five races of the season haven’t exactly gone to plan for Austin Dillon, but Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville was just what the doctor ordered for the fourth-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver as he was able to score his best finish of the season with a fifth-place result.
In this race one year ago, Dillon brought home a fourth-place finish, so the driver out of the Richard Childress Racing stable has learned how to get around the treacherous half-mile in recent trips to the track.
After starting the day in 20th when qualifying was washed out, Dillon was able drive his way into the top-10 by the time the first stage ended as he found himself in ninth place at lap 130. Though he was unable to crack the top-10 at the end of stage two on lap 260, he was able to rebound in the final stage.
Over the final 240 laps, Dillon methodically worked his way back toward the top-10 and eventually made it all the way to fifth-place when the checkered flag flew, marking his best finish of the season and best finish since finishing fourth in the Bristol Night Race last August.
“Really big for our team, for everybody at Dow and Okuma,” said Dillon. “Our pit crew did a really good job today. We had a fast car on restarts and really could take off. The middle of the run was shaky for us, but that last run, we held on, which was really nice. That’s what I was worried about on kind of older tires there, but it worked out for us. Man, to all the glory be to God and I’m just happy to be here today.”