Austin Dillon's Rookie NCWTS Season
HOMESTEAD, Florida (November 21, 2010) -- A disappointing, 31st-place finish in Friday evening's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway is not reflective of Richard Childress Racing's No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet team, as Austin Dillon culminated his first full season in NASCAR's No. 3 tour with Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors, a series-high seven pole awards and a top-five points showing.
Dillon finished fifth in the NCWTS championship point standings and will be formally honored for his 2010 accomplishments at a championship awards banquet on Monday.
The 26th and final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race event of the season began with a pair of practice sessions. Dillon & Co. stayed true to form, posting the second-fastest time during the first practice session of the weekend on Thursday night and the sixth-fastest time during final practice on Friday morning.
During qualifying on Friday afternoon, Dillon bested all drivers by circling the 1.5-mile speedway in 31.649 seconds at a speed of 170.622 mph, helping him to extend the record he established earlier in the season for most pole awards by a rookie competitor in the NCWTS. By earning his seventh pole award of 2010, Dillon also clinched the series' year-end pole award honors
Starting from the pole position in front of an estimated 25,000 race fans, Dillon spent the first 30 circuits of Friday evening's 134-lap race in a tight battle for the point position with Kyle Busch. The 20-year-old High Point University student dropped to third in the running order as he battled a loose-handling race truck before pitting during the first of six caution periods for four tires, fuel, chassis and air pressure adjustments.
Restarting third on lap 36, it was not long before the driver determined that his Chevrolet Silverado was still not fine-tuned to his liking. Dillon dropped to fifth in the running order within one lap of the restart, and fell back to as far as ninth in the running order before making trips down pit road under caution on laps 77 and 103 for adjustments to include four tires, fuel, chassis and air pressure adjustments to correct a tight-handling race truck.
Following the lap-103 pit stop, Dillon was scored 17th in the running order, but spotter Andy Houston and crew chief Danny Stockman assured their young protege that he and the team had what it took to make their way through the field and garner a solid finish to round out the season.
Armed with confidence and determination, Dillon dove in the middle of three trucks shortly after a lap-113 red flag, making the field four-wide. However, Dillon got loose as he completed the pass and the right-side of his black Chevrolet made contact with the outside wall.
The team had no choice but to make a series of green-flag pit stops for tires and repairs and, as a result, Dillon fell off of the lead lap.
Running four laps down to the leaders, Dillon crossed the finish line in 31st position on lap 134.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship Awards Banquet will be televised on SPEED at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, December 3.
"I feel like I showed my rookie stripes in the first race of the year and the last race of the year. For some reason, I tried to make it four wide at the end there just trying to make something happen. I felt like we had a good truck, I just should have waited an extra lap before making that move. All in all, it was a great season for Bass Pro Shops and our entire team. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year is something that we went into the season wanting to win. That, and finishing in the top 10 in points, was our main goal, and we were able to get top five. We came out with two wins and a bunch of poles. I wish we could have had a few more wins to go along with all those poles that we got. I'm really excited about going into next year. I guess I'm a veteran next year, so that's kind of hard to think about."