Coming off of their first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Stage win at Bristol, Ty Dillon and Germain Racing viewed Richmond as another opportunity to showcase the speed they've exhibited this year. The race is also special to the group, given that the Gecko resides just 100-miles up the road at GEICO's corporate offices near Washington, DC.
As has been the case in 2019, Dillon and his No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 were fast when practice got underway on Friday at Richmond International Raceway. The pair zipped around the ¾-mile facility and ended up 16th on the speed charts before starting 23rd on Saturday night. Optimism was abound as the GEICO team eyed the impending race.
Dillon and the GEICO Camaro rolled off of the starting grid from the 23rd position when the green flag got things started under the lights on Saturday night. The young gun wasted little time settling in and captured a stunning six positions in just the opening two laps, which served as immediate confirmation of Dillon's speed. He was in 17th and, before long, was comfortably in the top-15.
Dillon and the GEICO machine ran near the front throughout the night and the pit stops were solid during the opening two stages of the 400-lap event. The Welcome, NC, native seemed poised for yet another top-15 finish.
When Stage 2 concluded at lap 200, Dillon delivered his No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 to the attention of the pit crew for four tires, fuel and adjustments. While the stop was prompt, NASCAR issued Germain Racing a 'crewmember over the wall too soon' penalty, which left Dillon at the tail-end of the longest line. When the race returned to green for the beginning of Stage 3, he would roll from the 24th position.
Dillon remained measured on the team's radio frequency following the penalty, but on the track, he went on a tear and consistently posted lap times as fast as the leader during his bid to regain lost real estate. Dillon reaped the reward of his efforts, as he managed to keep the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 on the lead lap, despite being forced to navigate heavy traffic en route to the front. If passing at Richmond is a challenge, it was seemingly unapparent to Dillon. He continued carefully making his way through the field and moved the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 up to 17th by lap 316 of a scheduled 400. Dillon was back at the front and his enthusiasm for the speed of the GEICO car left everyone confident that he would continue his charge forward.
All went well until green flag pit stops got underway with around 80-laps remaining. On lap 320, Dillon brought the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 down pit road for a scheduled green flag stop. The Germain Racing crew efficiently outfitted Dillon with four fresh Goodyear tires and a full tank of Sunoco racing fuel, but were again assessed a 'crewmember over the wall too soon' penalty. NASCAR ordered Dillon to serve a pass-thru penalty, which would force the No. 13 entry down pit road during green flag conditions. After having worked his way to the front, the GEICO driver would again find himself playing catch-up.
With just 55-laps left to determine the outcome, Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 were again as quick as the leader. He was heavy on the gas, taking full advantage of the fast car underneath him and was up to 24th as the race continued to wind down. Despite the significant blow dealt to him in the latter stage of the race, Dillon was unwavering in his attempt to recover from the setbacks. When the checkered flag waved under the night sky, a hard-charging Dillon delivered the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 across the finish line in the 21st position, a strong result in the face of two late-race challenges.
"Our GEICO Camaro ZL1 was really fast tonight," Dillon said after the race. "Matt Borland and all of my Germain Racing guys have been working extremely hard back at the shop to bring fast race cars and it showed tonight. We didn't get the result we wanted or deserved because of a few pit road penalties, but we will look ahead to the GEICO 500 at Talladega."
A much-deserved weekend off awaits Germain Racing before they return to action at GEICO's marquis event in Talladega, AL, where the legendary speedway will be blanketed in GEICO's corporate colors and feature an exciting schedule of events. Also of note, Ty Dillon will be making his 100th NASCAR Cup Series start at the GEICO 500, which is race number 10 on the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 will hit the track at Talladega Superspeedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, April 26th, at 1:35 PM (ET). Qualifying will follow on Saturday, April 27th, at 4:40 PM (ET).
The GEICO 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is on Sunday, April 28th, and it will be televised live on FOX beginning at 2 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.