Austin Dillon shakes off rookie mistakes to finish ninth in Daytona 500

Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service Monday, Feb 24 1597

From Austin Dillon's point of view, the yellow stripe on the bumper of his No. 3 Chevrolet showed its color in Sunday night's Daytona 500.

In the first appearance of the No. 3 in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition since Dale Earnhardt's death in the same race 13 years ago, Dillon was involved in three multicar wrecks that helped shape the outcome of the Great American Race.

"Yeah, I think the yellow stripes on the bumper showed a little bit tonight," said Dillon, who finished ninth. "But we made it through it. It was fun. I had a blast. The car was fast.

"After we got in the (first) wreck (on Lap 145), I don't know how we didn't hit the wall. Had a little damage, but was just a lot freer after that. Car was still fast, just a little loose. All in all, it was a great start for our season, and hopefully we can carry it."

On the negative side, Dillon tapped the No. 31 Chevy of Richard Childress Racing teammate Ryan Newman and turned him sideways, causing the sixth caution of the race and setting up Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s victorious two-lap run to the finish.

"His rear bumper cover was off ... I barely touched him," Dillon explained. "It turned him to the left quick. Definitely didn't want to do that--he's my teammate. I think he touched the 1 (Jamie McMurray), (and) it backed him up.

"It happened quick. Like I said, getting aggressive, 10 to go, just trying to make something happen. It was hard once you got back up there to get back up front, if you weren't making moves to side draft. Hopefully I can take this, go to Talladega and do a little better."