In the first appearance of the No. 3 in NASCAR-CUP competition since Dale Earnhardt's death in the same race 13 years ago, Dillon was involved in three multicar wrecks.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—From Austin Dillon's point of view, the yellow stripe on the bumper of his No. 3 Chevrolet showed its color in Sunday night's Daytona 500.
In the first appearance of the No. 3 in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition since Dale Earnhardt's death in the same race 13 years ago, Dillon was involved in three multicar wrecks that helped shape the outcome of the Great American Race.
"After we got in the (first) wreck (on Lap 145), I don't know how we didn't hit the wall. Had a little damage, but was just a lot freer after that. Car was still fast, just a little loose. All in all, it was a great start for our season, and hopefully we can carry it."
On the negative side, Dillon tapped the No. 31 Chevy of Richard Childress Racing teammate Ryan Newman and turned him sideways, causing the sixth caution of the race and setting up Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s victorious two-lap run to the finish.
"His rear bumper cover was off ... I barely touched him," Dillon explained. "It turned him to the left quick. Definitely didn't want to do that--he's my teammate. I think he touched the 1 (Jamie McMurray), (and) it backed him up.
"It happened quick. Like I said, getting aggressive, 10 to go, just trying to make something happen. It was hard once you got back up there to get back up front, if you weren't making moves to side draft. Hopefully I can take this, go to Talladega and do a little better."
During a 13-car accident on Lap 145 of Sunday's Daytona 500, Danica Patrick suffered a bone-jarring impact against the outside wall in the tri-oval, after contact from Aric Almirola's Ford damaged the right front of her No. 10 Chevrolet and sent it rocketing into the fence.
As heavy as the hit was, Patrick's feelings may have been hurt more extensively, given that the wreck destroyed a competitive car and robbed her of a chance at a strong finish.
"I think, more than anything, I'm just upset that the GoDaddy car felt really good , and it was the best car I've had during Speedweeks," Patrick said after leaving the infield care center. "It seemed like we could catch whoever, and it seemed like we could move around and move forward at the end of the day.
"I felt like everything was going pretty well, so it's just upsetting. It's just the culmination of sitting around all day (during a 6 hour 22 minute rain delay). It's a bummer, but that's the excitement of speedway racing—that anything can happen—and it was unfortunate that I was on the short end of the accident.
"But that's the kind of thing that happens, and I appreciate everyone sticking around and watching, and we'll go get them at Phoenix."
The engine in Clint Bowyer's No. 15 Toyota gave up the ghost after 127 laps of Sunday's race, leaving Bowyer to wonder why he had to sit through the lengthy rain delay just to fall out of the race.
"It's just a frustrating day, first from the rain ... if it was going to blow up, I wish it would have blown up (six) hours ago," Bowyer said. "I could have been home watching.
"Just disappointing. The guys work so hard for this race. Everybody is out there having fun, and we broke our toy."