Austin Dillon predicts win soon for No. 3 team after Vegas wager
Austin Dillon overcame a pit stop gone bad where he chastised his pit crew over the team radio and then a pit-road speeding penalty that was his own fault to finish fifth in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at windy Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
After the pit-road speeding penalty, Dillon was two laps down to the leaders at one point.
But he knew his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was fast, and his crew chief, Slugger Labbe, elected to gamble and stay out on the track on a late caution when most of the rest of the field pitted.
I think you’ll see us in Victory Lane before the season is over.
Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet
The bet ultimately paid off. It enabled Dillon to gain back valuable track position, and he was third behind only Kyle Busch and Joey Logano on a restart with 35 laps to go. From there he held on for the impressive finish.
Asked how he came back to register the first top-five finish of this young season and only the third of his 88-race Sprint Cup career, Dillon told FOX Sports: "Just never giving up. It takes a lot of effort. These guys built such a fast racecar. "
He also credited his crew chief for making the right call.
"I did all I could there to get ourselves back in a position to get back on the lead lap," Dillon said. "The caution fell perfect for us. It took a gutsy call there (by Labbe) to take the wave-around to get back on the lead lap, to see if the caution would come out. It did right in our window, so things fell our way there for sure.
"But what a fast racecar. We were running some lap times faster than the leader in the middle of the race when we were laps down. That’s something we’re really proud of."
Dillon is off to a fine start to his 2016 season. He finished ninth in the season-opening Daytona 500 and was a respectable 11th in the second race of the year at Atlanta.
His fifth-place finish Sunday was his best since he finished fourth at Michigan in mid-August of last year. But he thought it could have been better if he hadn’t been forced to deal with wind gusts of up to 43 miles per hour — and made a bold prediction for the future of his No. 3 RCR Chevy team.
"I wish the wind wouldn’t have been so bad today or it might have been an even better day for us," he said. "I’m just proud of the Dow and Intellifresh (sponsored) team. I think you’ll see us in Victory Lane before the season is over."