The NASCAR Cup Series experienced a bit of normalcy when the series arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway over the weekend. While practice continued to be missing from the schedule, qualifying did return for the longest race of the season. After starting the 2020 season in strong fashion, Ty Dillon and Germain Racing unloaded the No. 13 GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 1LE looking to keep the momentum rolling.
Coming off of strong back-to-back 19th place finishes at Darlington Raceway, Dillon and company entered qualifying with a fast car draped in a new GEICO Military paint scheme. Dillon zipped around the Concord, NC, track in a prompt 30.059-seconds, at a rate of speed of 179.647-miles per hour, landing in the first eight rows, in the 16th position, on the starting grid.
As part of the NASCAR Salutes initiative, Dillon and Germain Racing honored United States Army Specialist (SPC) Richard C. Emmons III of North Granby, Connecticut, by carrying his name across the windshield of the No. 13 GEICO Military Camaro. At the age of 22, SPC Emm
ons III died on May 31, 2011 in Logar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket propelled grenade. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La. SPC Emmons' awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Service Medal, among others. Germain Racing fabricator, Nick Maniscalco, directly served with Emmons in the U.S. Army.
The Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race on the Cup Series schedule, with 400-laps and 600-miles to its credit. Germain Racing has a reputation for building solid racecars, so Dillon showed little concern as
he strapped into the GEICO Military Camaro during pre-race activities. He took the green flag from the 16th position and held his ground, breaking into the top-15 by lap 23.
All went well until a pit stop on lap 54 where Dillon and the GEICO Military Chevy received four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment from the pit crew. A few laps into the green flag run, Dillon was losing positions in bulk. The concerned driver communicated over the team's radio frequency that he felt as though he had an issue, forcing him to make an unscheduled pit stop under green flag conditions on lap 72 where a loose wheel was discovered. The setback left Dillon two-laps down to the field.
Such a significant deficit is challenging to overcome at Charlotte Motor Speedway, so Germain Racing crew chief, Matt Borland, used strategy throughout the night in an effort to recover lost real estate. Dillon played his part and was heavy on the gas of the No. 13 GEICO Military Camaro, strategically picking up positions while avoiding peril. The Coca-Cola 600 headed into overtime late into the night and Dillon managed to out-hustle Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman to the line to score a top-25 finish. Resilience prevailed and, aside from scoring another solid finish, Dillon managed to keep his desert tan, Geckoflauge adorned Chevy Camaro clean of any damage, a noteworthy achievement in a 600-mile race.
"First and foremost, the Coca-Cola 600 is about so much more than ourselves and it was an honor to have SPC Richard C. Emmons III on our car. While we missed having his family at the track with us, we honored them the best we could by fighting hard all night," Dillon said after the race. "Tonight wasn't what we were looking for after being so strong in qualifying. The balance of our GEICO Military Camaro ZL1 1LE was pretty good, but, unfortunately, we had to make an unscheduled pit stop under green in Stage 1 and never were able to recover. We usually don't see a lot of cautions at Charlotte and that trend continued tonight. We just couldn't dig ourselves out of the hole. It's a shame because we had a strong car and I thought we were going to have a good night after a solid qualifying effort. The positive is we do have a good baseline setup for Wednesday night and the car was fast, so we are looking forward to getting back here for another midweek race."
Germain Racing will again return to Concord, NC, for the NASCAR Cup Series' second midweek affair of the adjusted schedule.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 1LE will hit the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday, May 27th for the Alsco Uniforms 500. The race will be televised live on FS1 beginning at 8 PM (ET). The Performance Racing Network (PRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.