Ty Dillon has had a breakout season in his rookie year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and while Charlotte was tough on the young gun a week ago, he arrived at Dover seeking redemption. In the closing moments of Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway, it appeared as though the GEICO driver may notch his first Cup Series win.
Dillon advanced to the second round of qualifying on Friday and navigated the Monster Mile in just 22.968-seconds, at a speed of 156.740 miles per hour. His effort was good enough to place the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS 21st on Sunday's starting grid.
When the race went green under perfect skies and warm temperatures, Dillon dropped one spot to 22nd before breaking into the top-20 on lap 60. With patience as a virtue, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate took his time picking up positions, as a long race lie ahead of him. As the race neared the midway point, he moved the GEICO Chevy into the 15th position on lap 190.
The Germain Racing pit crew was flawless during the 400-lap event and on lap 333, they returned Dillon to the racing surface ahead of seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, allowing the GEICO Chevy to take the lead. Dillon's tenure at the front would not be short-lived and he would lead the race for 27 laps. He would only drop as far as fourth and seemed poised for a solid top-five finish as the Cup Series field contested the final few laps. Much to Dillon's dismay, the 14th caution flag of the day waved with just four laps left in the race, sending the event into overtime.
The race restarted for the final time on lap 404 and Dillon took off from the fourth position. Business picked up quickly, as cars ran three-wide and door-to-door. On the final lap, Dillon found himself sideways in heavy traffic, which resulted in a chain reaction crash that ended the race and left the GEICO Chevy limping around the speedway to take the checkered flag. Despite being collected in the last-lap incident, Dillon scored a lead lap, 14th place finish.
Immediately after crossing the finish line, Dillon radioed to the GEICO team, "I'm really proud of all your hard work. We gotta believe. We can do this and I hate we didn't get the finish we deserved today, but our time is coming."
Dillon made his presence known during the race and left television and radio commentators alike talking about his strong run long after the race was over. He shared his enthusiasm after exiting the No. 13 GEICO Chevy.
"First of all, I'm really proud of our Germain Racing team. I can't thank Bob Germain enough for giving me the opportunity to come out here and race with these guys, it's a lifelong dream," Dillon said. "To lead laps like that meant a lot to me. We had to restart fourth on old tires and I just think the air off the No. 31 got me a little loose and they left a bunch of sand there off turn two and as soon as I got loose and hit that sand it was all over. I feel bad for all the cars that got torn up, but, really, I don't know what the No. 31 or myself could have done any different to stay out of that crash. I'm proud of our effort today. We proved to ourselves as a team that we can run up front with the big boys and just proud of our effort by our GEICO team overall."
Germain Racing will now travel to Long Pond, PA, to do battle at the famed 'Tricky Triangle'.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Pocono Raceway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, June 9th, at 11:00 AM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 4:15 PM (ET).