The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series continued its tour of the west coast when they took to the track at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, Ty Dillon, has started the 2017 season in strong fashion and set his sights on yet another solid run when Germain Racing unloaded his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS amid the hot desert temperatures. His aim was true and when the dust settled after an overtime finish on Sunday, Dillon narrowly missed a top-15 result when he crossed the finish line on the lead lap, in the 16th position after a successful day of racing at the high speed, one-mile facility.
Dillon sat 20th on the speed chart at the close of Friday's opening practice session before turning his attention to Cup Series qualifying later that evening. The GEICO driver was in the top-24 quickest cars in the first round of qualifying, which allowed him the opportunity to advance to the second round. Dillon picked up the pace and only narrowly missed making the field of 12 that would advance to the third and final round. He qualified a head-turning 15th and left the GEICO team optimistic about Sunday's prospects.
Starting 15th in the Camping World 500(k) on Sunday, Dillon settled in for a scheduled 312-miles of racing. He almost immediately began battling an ill-handling racecar that left him free-falling through the field before bottoming out in the 26th position by lap 39. It wasn't until lap 83 that Dillon began a methodical dash through the field that saw him collect positions in bulk. By the conclusion of stage two of the event, Dillon had moved the No. 13 GEICO Chevy into the 18th position and was poised for a strong finish. In the third and final stage of the race, he remained on the lead lap and survived a hair-raising overtime period to finish 16th and hand Germain Racing their second top-20 finish of the young 2017 season.
"The GEICO Chevy was good for most of our runs today. We just couldn't fire off as well as we needed to on the fresh tires," Dillon said. "The heat today was certainly tough. We made some great adjustments to the car throughout the race. I think we are really working great as a team. I can't wait to see what we have next week in Fontana."
Race number three of NASCAR's west coast tour will take place next week in southern California.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 Twisted Tea Chevrolet SS will hit the track in Fontana, CA, for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, March 24th, at 2:00 PM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 7:05 PM (ET).
The 400-mile Fontana, CA, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is on Sunday, March 26th, 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.