By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
Despite the speed of his No. 3 AAA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was evident, Austin Dillon could only muster a top-10 finish at Richmond Raceway.
Throughout the final run of the Toyota Owners 400, Dillon powered forward. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver picked off his competitors one by one. As other drivers, like Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch, lost the handle of their cars in the waning laps, Dillon made quick work of them.
Dillon had one of the fastest cars on track, but not nearly enough time to contend for the victory. He didn’t break into the top-10 until the final 50 laps. Dillon took the checkered flag in sixth. He was the only Chevrolet to finish inside the top-10.
“We had a really fast car,” Dillon explained. “I think we actually had a little something for at least the top three spots. We had a little bit of a mess-up on our last pit stop and lost some track position. But we passed some good cars there at the end with Kyle (Busch) and (Brad) Keselowski.
“We had a really fast car. I’m really proud of these guys, the AAA team. I just wish we could have been a little further forward to see what I had. I saved a lot of my stuff for the end and was ready for that last run. But, we didn’t have enough.”
Although the Richard Childress Racing driver started sixth, he quickly fell back. Dillon failed to earn points in either of the first two stages, ending both outside the top-10.
The sixth-place finish is just the second top-10 for Dillon this season, and 36th of his career.
Prior to the drop of the green flag, Dillon had gained two positions. He had the eighth fastest lap, but fellow Chevy Racing driver Chase Elliott, who was to start seventh, and outside polesitter Erik Jones failed pre-race tech, their lap times disallowed.
The top-10 also moves Dillon up from 18th in the championship standings to be tied for 14th with his former teammate, Ryan Newman. The duo are 184-points behind points leader Busch. They are also just three points ahead of the cutoff, currently held by Paul Menard.