By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Even with a severe vibration, Austin Dillon brought his No. 3 Dow “We Are Innovators” Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 home inside the top-five. It appeared that Dillon had a car capable of competing with ‘the big three’ in the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver climbed through the field in the waning laps, battling with eventual race winner Kevin Harvick. Dillon took the lead briefly during a round of green flag pit stops, only for lap traffic to hinder his battle with Harvick. Slowly, he fell back, just over three seconds off of the leader.
With a little over a lap to go, Dillon missed the corner in turn three before his car started vibrating. His pace slowed, he nursed his Richard Childress Racing machine around the 2-mile oval on the final lap. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski whipped by before Dillon could take the checkered flag in fourth.
The strength of Dillon’s Chevrolet was apparent off and on throughout the weekend. Despite poor performance in practice, the 2018 Daytona 500 winner qualified fifth. His race, like many in the Chevy Racing camp was up and down. Dillon was outside the top-10 in Stage 1 but ended Stage 2 in fifth.
“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 (Harvick) we could win the race. With two (laps) to go, I went into (Turn) 3 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. But, 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.”
The fourth-place finish is Dillon’s second top-five and fourth top-10 finish this season. It moves him up to 20th in the Championship Points Standings, 535-Points behind Busch, the Points Leader. Dillon is locked into the 2018 Playoffs via his Daytona 500 win earlier this year. The 28-year-old has not gained any Playoff Points since that victory.
Now Dillon has just three more races to try to add more Playoff Points before the Playoffs begin.