RACE REPORT: Talladega Superspeedway
GEICO's marquis event, the GEICO 500, normally takes place in April, but the race was moved to June in the wake of the pandemic. The schedule shift ensured that Ty Dillon and Germain Racing would enjoy the brutal heat and humidity offered by Alabama in the summertime. Weather would not thwart Dillon's weekend, however, as the GEICO driver posted a strong 12th place finish in today's GEICO 500 after going for the win and avoiding peril at the finish line in NASCAR overtime.
Mother Nature would, again, throw her hat in the ring on Sunday when she blanketed Talladega Superspeedway with heavy rain, forcing the postponement of the GEICO 500 to Monday at 3 PM (ET). With 5,000 race fans in attendance on Monday, the green flag gave way to 500-miles of exciting restrictor-plate racing.
Dillon and his No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 1LE rolled off of the starting grid from the 33rd position (random draw), but charged through the field, picking up 17 positions in the first five laps of the race. He was able to come and go through the field at will, but drafting help was often at a premium. Undaunted, Dillon continued to pedal the GEICO machine to the front, landing in the second position on lap 48.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature made an encore performance on lap 58, when rain and lightning brought out the red flag and sent the teams scrambling for shelter. Just shy of an hour later, Dillon and his NASCAR Cup Series counterparts emerged from their motorhomes and returned to racing.
Dillon spent the entirety of Stage 2 in the top-20, charging to the front at times in order to gauge the strength of his No. 13 GEICO Camaro. A talented restrictor-plate racer, he remained patient and pledged to be in contention for the win at the end of the race. Dillon stayed true to his plan and only occasionally entertained the temptation to go to the front.
"I'm still just trying to be patient here," Dillon shared with the GEICO crew, as he ran solidly in the 17th position on lap 142 of 188.
With just 38 laps remaining in the GEICO 500, Dillon topped 200-mph, making him one of just a few drivers to do so during the race. The GEICO Camaro was fast as Dillon hurriedly made his way around the legendary, high-banked 2.66-mile superspeedway. In a strategy move, crew chief, Matt Borland, ordered Dillon to save fuel, which he was able to do without sacrificing his position.
With 10 laps remaining in the advertised distance, Borland turned his driver loose, telling Dillon that he was good on fuel. Dillon moved forward, landing the No. 13 GEICO Camaro in the top-15 before the caution flag waved with just three laps to go in the race. Dillon's patience was rewarded and he was at the front of the field with a shot to win as the GEICO 500 entered NASCAR overtime.
Dillon and his GEICO Camaro restarted the race from the ninth position and were quickly up to fourth place on the final lap. As the field approached the checkered flag, the No. 17 car of Chris Buescher stalled out in front of Dillon as cars began crashing just ahead of the GEICO Camaro. Dillon masterfully avoided the chaos and wheeled the No. 13 GEICO Camaro to a 12th place finish.
Dillon and the GEICO team were strong throughout the entire event, with the pit crew proving efficient on pit road, returning the No. 13 entry promptly to the racing surface on each stop. Today's finish accounts for Germain Racing's third top-15 result of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
"Our GEICO Camaro was solid today. We had a strategy there at the end to save fuel to make sure we were good to the checkered," Dillon shared after the race. "I stumbled a little bit on the final restart, but we had just enough fuel to make it. You just have to be in the right line at the right time at the end of these things. We got filed out on the bottom, but still brought home a 12th-place finish. I'm really proud of our result. We needed that and we will keep truckin' along. I'm proud of my GEICO/Germain Racing team. We are going to keep rebounding and getting better."
Germain Racing will now head to the 'Tricky Triangle' in the Pocono Mountains for a weekend double-header.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 1LE will hit the track at Pocono Raceway on Saturday, June 27th, for the Pocono Organics 325 and again on Sunday, June 28th, for the Pocono 350. Saturday's race will be televised live on FOX beginning at 3:30 PM (ET), while Sunday's event will be televised live on FS1 at 4 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast for both races, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.