Austin Dillon comments as a nifty trick caused all drivers to fail at turning a lap in the final round of NASCAR qualifying
Race craft comes in all shapes and forms. And it doesn’t hurt to have a fast race car to go along with it.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying took place at Auto Club Speedway on Friday afternoon. Austin Dillon was quickest in round one. He backed that up in round two, topping the board once again.
In round two, Kurt Busch went onto the race track early in the session. He was the only car to do so. The rest of the field wanted at the edge of the pit lane for a call from their crew chiefs.
It’s a huge disadvantage to lack a drafting partner with the new rules package at tracks over a mile. Kurt Busch found that out as he was 22nd of 24. That’s why drivers not so calmly waited for the group to hit the track.
With just over a minute left, everyone hit the track at once. They had to make it to the line before time expired for the lap to count. The entire lane of cars made it with about 2 seconds to spare.
It resulted in a qualifying race. Kyle Busch threw a block on Daniel Suarez. He then passed him back and also passed William Byron. Despite passing two cars, his lap was still good enough for 4th.
Round 3 Qualifying
Auto Club Speedway
Knowing what happened in round two, Austin Dillon and his Richard Childress Racing team formed a solid plan. They were the first car to pull to the edge of the pit lane, just as the green flag dropped on the five minute session.
He then sat there, with everyone else. With just under a minute remaining, the field started slowly rolling. But, they weren’t on the gas just yet. At the front of the group, Austin Dillon was in no hurry at all. After all, if he can trick the entire field into missing their timed lap then he would be the pole sitter based on his time from round two.
Austin Dillon led the group off pit lane. But, nobody wanted to pass him. It’s a disadvantage to be the first car in the train.
But, Austin Dillon didn’t need to go. All he needed to do was trick the field into waiting long enough that they couldn’t make it back to the line in time.
Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney started to catch on. They were aggressive in getting to the front of the field as the entire group left the pit lane. Everybody was near running over each other just to start the lap. But, it was already too late for Busch, Blaney and everyone.
The plan worked as it was drawn up. Not a single car made it to the start/finish line before time expired. Brilliant!
Austin Dillon comments on winning the pole at Auto Club Speedway
“I think a lot of the cars wanted to follow us. They knew we had the car to beat,” Austin Dillon stated after grabbing the Busch Pole Award at Auto Club Speedway.
“Trying to get us to go was probably a part of that. When the #18 made a little bit of a move there, I just rode on his door. I was going to follow him and have one car to beat, I didn’t have to make it back around.”
“Then, the #12 came through the grass. I thought he demolished his car. It looked like it left the ground over there. I don’t know what he hit but it was pretty wild.”
“At that point, my spotter said, ‘It’s over, you can bring it around here.’ “
“I knew we had gotten the pole.”
Dustin Long: You know the history of the sport. How do you put this into perspective?
“Here’s the part that’s a bit frustrating, we’ve done this before. We’ve gone down the path. I don’t understand what was going to be different.”
“It is what it is. We tried it. But, NASCAR does a good job of making changes to move forward. It’s not like they’re not going to address this situation.”
“I don’t like being negative toward anything. Negativity brings people down. I like to be a positive person and surround myself with positive people.”
“I’m not going to bash anybody. I feel like we’ll make changes accordingly. But, the playing field was the same for everybody. That’s what we try to have here.”