Ty Dillon and GEICO Chevy Crew Show Strengths But Cannot Overcome the Crashes on Sunday at Daytona
Race: Daytona 500
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Date: Sunday, February 26, 2017
Starting Position: 18
Finish Position: 30
The 200 lap/500 mile Daytona 500 officially kicked the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series into high gear on Sunday afternoon under blue skies and favorable temperatures at Daytona International Speedway. The "Great American Race" is famous for spectacular racing and wild crashes and both were present Sunday.
Ty Dillon qualified the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet in 12th place during time trials a week ago, then backed up the qualifying effort with a 10th place finish in the Can-Am Duel on Thursday night which locked in starting positions. Several competitors failed technical inspection pushing the GEICO Chevy up the starting order to 18th for Sunday's green flag.
Dillon is competing for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in his first, full-time, Monster Energy Series season. However, he drove with veteran prowess and easily pushed his way into the top ten, even holding the 8th position for a long series of laps.
The GEICO Chevy crew performed a long pit stop during the team's first pit sequence to make adjustments to free up the chassis for Dillon. That stop put Dillon well back in the field and he drove back through in time for the end of the first stage of three stages in Sunday's 500-mile race. Dillon pitted during the scheduled race break, entering 14th and exiting 24th. This second visit was hampered by our car position in the pit stall and our pit road neighbors doing repair work to their car in their stall. It didn't deter Dillon. He broke back into the top ten during the next run and ranked 8th for the third visit to pit road for 2 tires during green flag racing. As the teams were cycling through pit stops, a crash ensued ahead of Dillon that brought the field under caution and a subsequent 17-minute red flag period at lap 106. The GEICO Chevrolet suffered nose damage, and the crew worked carefully with Dillon to repair it.
For much of the remainder of stage two, Dillon and the GEICO crew took advantages of opportunities to work on the car to get it fully ready for racing for the win. The repair efforts put Dillon two laps off the pace, but the No. 13 machine was well conditioned to fight for positions. Before the untimely end of the race day, Dillon had even regained one of the laps he had gone down and was in position to return to the lead lap.
The final stage looked promising in the early laps, but, instead, proved to be the undoing for the GEICO Chevy, and many, many other race cars. On lap 142, a multi-car crash finished off Dillon's Daytona 500 for 2017. Ultimately, he received credit for a 30th-place finish.
After the race, Dillon was asked what happened when the multi-car pileup ensued:
“We got caught up in that first crash when Kyle (Busch) cut a right-rear (tire). I really had nowhere to go. Bootie (Barker, crew chief) and the guys worked really hard. I was so proud of our guys. We got it fixed. We had just got a lap back and I probably should have been more patient there because we were the only car a lap down and should have waited for that crash and dodge another one, but sometimes you just can’t (wait) here at Daytona. We just got caught up in it. Just a bummer because I felt like I had a fast-enough car to get back up there and have a good finish and capitalize on a day that went sour early. We had a fast GEICO Chevy - unfortunately the race didn’t work out for us. I really can't say enough about my guys for working hard throughout the day to get the car back to where it was. They proved their toughness and we will move on to Atlanta and go race.”
He shared his thoughts on the day's racing:
“I don’t know what it is about this year, maybe it’s the segments, I don’t know. It’s got everybody a little more amped up, but there are not a whole lot of cars finishing. I dodged all of them yesterday and ran out of gas in the end and didn’t dodge them all today in the GEICO Chevy. It’s just part of racing here at Daytona. That is why the Daytona 500 is one of the toughest races to win.”
Next Up for the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet: Atlanta Motor Speedway, on Sunday, March 5, 2017, for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on FOX at 2:30 PM ET.