Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

Austin Dillon fine with being a NASCAR Sprint Cup longshot

CONCORD, N.C. — Of the 12 drivers remaining in NASCAR's playoffs, the oddsmakers have ranked Austin Dillon last.

Very few expected him to make it out of the first round of the Chase for the Championship. Only he did make the cut, and now Dillon intends to advance further.

"I like this role," Dillon said of being a long shot, ''because it puts the pressure on the guys that I guess are projected to make it to the next round — whatever projections mean."

This is Dillon's Chase debut, and he went into last weekend's race at Dover in danger of elimination. But he stepped up with a strong eighth-place finish — his first top 10 in six weeks — and reached the round of 12.

He'll start 19th in tonight's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the opening race of the second round of the Chase. Rain from Hurricane Matthew washed out all track activity Friday, but Dillon, like most teams, used Thursday to prepare for the race.

"We had a good car in practice. We just missed our balance a little bit" in qualifying, Dillon said. "We'll be fine. I'm really happy with our Chevrolet."

Though his results have been mediocre — Dillon was 14th at Chicago in the Chase opener, then 16th at New Hampshire — he did what he had to do at Dover while the drivers ahead of him in the standings struggled.

Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson didn't make the round of 12, and Dillon capitalized with his Richard Childress Racing team.

"You just never know what can happen in a race and you never know what the outcome will be," he said. "There is so much that goes into every little piece and part of these cars."

Daytona storm: Daytona International Speedway officials said the track had "moderate damage" from Hurricane Matthew. Officials say lights, speakers, signage, fences, gates, awnings and palm trees were damaged from the storm, which made its way up Florida's coastline. They say there was no flooding at the facility, adding that pictures of a flooded DIS on social media were from a 2009 storm which caused damage.

Xfinity: Because of the rain at Charlotte, the Drive for the Cure 300 was postponed until 11 a.m. Sunday. It will still air on NBCSN.

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