RACE REPORT: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Coming off of a fast Speedweeks at Daytona, Ty Dillon and the GEICO team again found their footing when they arrived in Las Vegas on Friday. When Dillon took to the 1.5-mile oval of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he made quick work of the track, ending up third on the scoring tower at the conclusion of the opening practice session. Final practice followed suit and, despite having the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 1LE in race trim, Dillon was 16th fastest, but had the 12th fastest 10-lap average.
For the second consecutive week, Mother Nature showed up to exhibit her might. This time, heavy rain spared race day, but caused the cancellation of NASCAR Cup Series qualifying, a frustrating outcome for a driver and team armed with a quick racecar. The starting field would be set according to the 2019 owner point standings, which would leave Dillon rolling off of the starting grid from the 24th position.
Chamber of commerce weather gave way to racing on Sunday afternoon when fans filed in to bear witness to the Pennzoil 400. Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Camaro took off from 24th when the green flag set the field underway for 267-laps of action. Dillon promptly collected six positions and moved
into 18th on the opening lap of the race.
The balance of the race would be much of the same, as Dillon would break into the top-5 on lap 55 and run strong throughout the afternoon. The No. 13 GEICO Camaro was solid throughout the afternoon and the Germain Racing pit crew would play their part on pit road, always returning Dillon to the racing surface quickly.
When the caution flag slowed the field with just five laps to go in the 267-lap race, crew chief, Matt Borland, ordered Dillon to pit road, where the Germain Racing pit crew outfitted his GEICO Camaro with four fresh tires. After pitting, Dillon would restart the race from the 19th position. Just two laps remained when the green flag turned the field loose for what would be a wild finish.
When the green flag flew for the final restart of the day, business picked up immediately and cars went six-wide in a wild charge to the finish. Dillon made a daring move, wheeling the GEICO Camaro to the inside of a large pack of cars, which netted nine-positions and rewarded him with a 10th place finish. Germain Racing's top-10 result at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is indicative of the team's progress on intermediate tracks and the confidence of their wheelman, Ty Dillon.
"I'm just really happy with our GEICO Camaro. We got pretty tight through the middle of the race, so we started freeing it up and freeing it up," a smiling Dillon said after exiting his racecar. "We just needed an opportunity to get some track position back there. Things went our way on that restart and I was able to find some holes and finally got aggressive there at the end." He continued, "We got our first top-10 of the year, so that feels good. We ran really, really strong at Daytona, but didn't get the result that we deserved. For our team to run the way we did today is a really exciting thing for our organization."
The restarts were wild at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but Dillon's cat-like reflexes served him well.
"It was nuts. It was three or four-wide every single restart and you just had to find the lane that had a little bit of momentum," Dillon said. "It was crazy, it was never the same. I think I restarted 19th and went through the middle, and we ended up 10th. I don't really know what happened, but we just started passing cars. You just had to find the lane and you had to process things at such a high rate of speed. You just had to be committed to where you were going."
With heavy rain having blanketed the Las Vegas area on Saturday, NASCAR Cup Series drivers were faced with a green racetrack when the Pennzoil 400 got underway on Sunday.
"It was green to start, which always throws you a curveball. You don't really know how the track is going to transition and what you're going to battle," Dillon said. "For us, it was free to start, it got tight again and then we kind of freed it up there at the end. You're always chasing the track; that's what makes NASCAR fun. Nobody just dominates everything anymore. It was a really fun race and I hope the fans enjoyed it."
Germain Racing will now make their way to beautiful southern California for the third race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 1LE will hit the track at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA, for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, February 28th, at 4:05 PM (ET). Qualifying will follow on Saturday at 2:35 PM (ET).
The Autoclub 400 is on Sunday, March 1st and it will be televised live on FOX beginning at 3:30 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.