CONCORD, NC – Austin Dillon was sitting pretty heading into the final cutoff race of the opening round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. He was +10 and coming off of finishes of 11th and sixth respectively in the playoffs and looking for an improbable spot into the second round. He only had four top 11 finishes in the first 26 races of the season and now he was in a great spot to move on.
Unfortunately, an early race incident in Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 cost Dillon a spot into the Round of 12.
After brushing the wall earlier in the race, the Richard Childress Racing driver crunched his No. 3 Chevrolet into the wall again on Lap 65 and sent him packing.
The damage was enough to knock Dillon out of the race, and all but out of the playoffs. Mathematically, he still has a chance, but the chances are slim.
“This is a crazy race,” Dillon told NBC after the incident. “I was having a good run and the No. 37 (Chris Buescher), I went through (Turns) 3 and 4 and I knew I didn’t even make a mistake. … He flicked the wheel right in the middle of the corner, and when he did, I checked and smacked the outside wall and just couldn’t save it.
“I should have just been more patient and waited for more attrition to go out. But I actually felt pretty comfortable and running good. It’s just hard to hold back in a treacherous race; and I guess I didn’t do what we needed to do.”