Mid-week racing continued this week, as the NASCAR Cup Series journeyed to Ridgeway, VA, last night to do battle on Hump Day at the half-mile track affectionately dubbed 'the paperclip', due to its unique shape. Accordingly, Germain Racing rolled into town with their No. 13 GEICO Hump Day Camaro ZL1 1LE looking to rebound from a challenging trio of races. Dillon and company were, again, forced to exercise resilience last night at Martinsville Speedway, but the GEICO team was able to recover and hustle to a 22nd place finish.
Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Hump Day Camaro took the green flag from the 30th position after a random draw determined the race's starting grid. The crafty veteran promptly wheeled around the cars in front of him and broke into the top-25. Tire wear quickly became an issue for the bulk of the field and when the third caution flag of the night waved on lap 113, nearly half of the drivers were left a lap down to the leader, including championship drivers and teams alike. The right front tire began wearing excessively and showing cords, which resulted in an intensely tight condition and left Dillon at odds with his racecar.
Dillon communicated frequently with crew chief, Matt Borland, and the team made helpful adjustments to the GEICO Hump Day Camaro throughout the race. Dillon was turning in lap times that were often faster than the leader, which allowed him to gather up lost track position and land back in the top-20. The No. 13 entry was getting faster and the driver's enthusiasm echoed over the Germain Racing radio frequency as Stage 2 came to a close.
"That was our strong suit there; we just need to keep loosening it up," Dillon excitedly reported to Borland.
Dillon delivered his No. 13 GEICO Hump Day Camaro to the attention of his pit crew during the stage break, where they outfitted him with four fresh Goodyear tires and a full tank of Sunoco racing fuel. Unfortunately, they also left a lugnut loose, which forced Dillon to make an additional stop to correct the error. He would lose costly track position and be forced to restart the race from the 29th position when Stage 3 got underway.
Despite the setback, Dillon was unwavering in his efforts, remaining positive on the radio and strategically picking off the cars in front of him. He returned the GEICO Hump Day Camaro to the top-20 on lap 403 of a scheduled 500. As the laps wound down, he ran solidly around the top-20 and showed the strength of his GEICO Hump Day Camaro.
Dillon withstood the heat of the night, overcame obstacles and, in the end, outhustled a hard-charging Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin to the checkered flag to score a 22nd place finish under the lights at Martinsville Speedway.
"Our GEICO team was dealt a bad hand early in the opening run. I don't know if it was a combination of the new softer tire compound with the lack of rubber in the outside lane, but our right front tire was showing cords in the first 60 laps, which also made our Camaro really, really tight," Dillon said. "With starting on the outside, we knew getting to the bottom as quick as possible was going to help, but, unfortunately, there wasn't a chance to get down and we lost a ton of track position there. Once the race settled in and we loosened the car up, it really came to life. Our car was very strong on the long run and I could post lap times as fast as the leader late in the run. The break just never came for us to get back on the lead lap."
Dillon continued, "Matt (Borland) made a good gamble at the end to take a wave-around to gain track position, even though we were a handful of laps short on fuel. We banked on getting a caution in the last 100 laps, but thankfully, it all worked out and we made it to the checkered flag without running out. Our Germain Racing team will keep digging and battling. We still have a long season left and we are making gains even if the results don't show it right now."
Germain Racing will now load up and head to south Florida for race number 12 of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. Dillon will be carrying the 'GEICO For Your Boat' livery on his No. 13 entry.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO For Your Boat Camaro ZL1 1LE will hit the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, June 14th, for the Dixie Vodka 400. The race will be televised live on FOX beginning at 3:30 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.