Watch as Austin Dillon’s weekend at Loudon gets off to rough start

Austin Dillon qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the first time this year, but already his chances of advancing out of the first round look daunting.

In the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway last week, Dillon finished 14th, putting him 13th in points. Only the top 12 in points after next weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway will advance to the second round of the Chase.

But in practice Friday for the Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Dillon wrecked his primary No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in practice and will have to go to a backup for the race.

Dillon’s crash happened near the end of practice, meaning he got no laps on the backup car prior to qualifying. And his newer primary car was only 32nd-fast out of 40 cars in practice anyway.

It was not a good start to the weekend.

"It didn’t go as planned," Dillon said of his crash. "Just trying to find some extra speed and drove a little too hard I guess or I don’t know what really happened. We just didn’t have it together as good as we wanted to in that first practice."

Asked when he’d start watching points, Dillon was blunt.

"I think you are already in that mindset," he said. "You know you’ve got to beat 16 of those guys. You watch where they are at and you are trying to be ahead of every one of them you can. Every restart you have to be aggressive at the end. You have to make calls to gain those positions to put yourself in that position. We will be aggressive the next two weeks, as aggressive as we can, aggressively smart." 

This much is a virtual certainty: In order to advance in the Chase, Dillon has to have a strong finish at New Hampshire and hope some of his fellow Chase drivers encounter trouble.

"I think two top-10 finishes will give us a great shot to move to the next round," said Dillon, who has only had one top 10 in the last seven races. "That is what we want to do so we can regroup. I feel like we’ve got a good shot the next two weeks."