By: Pete Pistone – @PPistone | MRN.com on September 24, 2016 | 8:40 A.M. EST
“Yeah, I’ve never had a back-up car that I’ve had to run in three years, so we will see how it goes right here. I will have a better answer afterwards.” (Photo: Getty Images)
Austin Dillon will try to keep his Chase hopes alive Sunday in the Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Dillon comes into the second race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship 13th in the standings. He’ll need to move out of the bottom four over the next two weeks in order to move on to the second round.
Adding to Dillon’s challenges is the fact he’ll be in a back-up car in Sunday’s race after crashing his primary mount in Friday’s first practice session.
“I’ve never had to go to a back-up,” Dillon said about what to expect. “In Darlington I flat sided the car in practice, but we used that car. That is the only place I’ve really had damage and had to run a car with damage going into a race. Yeah, I’ve never had a back-up car that I’ve had to run in three years, so we will see how it goes right here. I will have a better answer afterwards.”
Dillon had a mediocre performance at Chicagoland Speedway in the Chase opener and is planning to put that behind him to concentrate on a better effort at New Hampshire.
“I feel like we can gain points here this weekend,” he said Friday morning after practice. “We just have to be smart with what we do from here on out. The good thing is that it happened during the first practice session, so we can have a good qualifying position in the next two hours and it doesn’t hurt us, we don’t have to start in the back.
“I feel like this is a place where we can gain positions. It’s a long race. You can play some strategy at the end, restarts are really important, especially when the late race cautions start happening.”
Unfortunately Dillon’s qualifying effort wasn’t stellar and he’ll start 29th on Sunday. But he’s remaining positive and understands that dealing with the pressure of his first Chase is part of the process.
“I think you are already in that mindset,” Dillon said about the pressure of being in the championship. “You know you’ve got to beat sixteen of those guys. You watch where they are at and you are trying to be ahead of every one of them you can. Every restart you have to be aggressive at the end. You have to make calls to gain those positions to put yourself in that position. We will be aggressive the next two weeks, as aggressive as we can, aggressively smart.
“I think two top 10 finishes will give us a great shot to move to the next round. That is what we want to do so we can regroup. I feel like we’ve got a good shot the next two weeks.”