The 2019Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season bears a stark contrast from a year ago for Ty Dillon and Germain Racing. The GEICO team has opened up the new campaign scoring top-15 finishes in three of the first six races, an immeasurable improvement from 2018. Aside from race results this season, Dillon has also demonstrated significant progress in both practice and qualifying each week, an indication of consistency that equates to success on race day.
Dillon and his No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 again got off to a fast start on Saturday at Martinsville Speedway, a track more affectionately known as 'the paperclip'. The pair finished up practice sixth fastest and looked to continue their qualifying success on Saturday afternoon. For the fifth consecutive week, Dillon and the Germain Racing team advanced to the second round of qualifying and scored a 22nd place starting position after the former hustled the GEICO Camaro ZL1 around the half-mile paperclip-shaped oval in a brief 19.652-seconds.
At a track where tempers commonly flare due to the close-quarters racing and often incidental contact, Dillon started from the 22nd position when the green flag kicked off 500-laps of intense on-track action. While gaining positions on a short-track, particularly Martinsville, can be a daunting task, Dillon looked effortless in his pursuit. The No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 exhibited speed from the onset and the Welcome, NC, native navigated the field flawlessly and soon found himself running in the top-20 before continuing his ascent to the top-15, which is where he finished up the second stage.
Dillon's No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 was not only fast on the track, but also on pit road. NASCAR assessed the hard-charging youngster two speeding penalties over the course of the event, both of which left him perplexed, given his attention to his dashboard upon entry. Dillon spent little time disputing the penalties, but rather turned his attention to using his ever-present speed to chase down the cars in front of him after being relegated to the rear of the field. When each of the two green flags restarted the race, Dillon was on the gas and the GEICO machine promptly began recovering lost real estate in bulk en route to the top-15.
Despite the two penalties, Dillon's destiny for the day would not be denied, and when the checkered flag settled 263-miles of racing, he delivered the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 across the finish line in the 13th position. His effort resulted in Germain Racing's third top-15 result in the season's first six races.
"Our GEICO Camaro was extremely fast, but we had two speeding penalties, so to finish 13th after starting 22nd and having those two penalties just shows how much speed we had today," Dillon said after climbing from his car. "I am very proud of our day, and you can always say 'what if', like if we didn't have the penalties - where would we have been? But I am really proud of our effort, and this is what we envisioned three years ago when I started driving this GEICO car. Just getting better every year and making sure we had taken the right steps to be where we needed to be in year three. We just want to keep going in that direction and I think if you look at Phoenix, Martinsville, and these short tracks, we have gotten better and better every year. I think as we continue to grow, we are going to be more and more competitive at the short tracks. We just have to get it where we are running top-15 at the 1.5-mile tracks, and then we can be really competitive."
Next up for Germain Racing is a trip to the Lonestar State for race number seven of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 will hit the track at Texas Motor Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, March 29th, at 3:05 PM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 7:40 PM (ET).
The O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is on Sunday, March 31st, and it will be televised live on FOX beginning at 3 PM (ET). The Performance Racing Network (PRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.