With the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season in full swing, rookie Ty Dillon has found his place among the seasoned NASCAR veterans. The GEICO driver had a strong Speedweeks at Daytona before departing last week's race in Atlanta with a top-15, lead lap finish, a feat not easily accomplished at the 1.54-mile high-speed facility.
While Las Vegas Motor Speedway has long been a source of frustration for the Germain Racing organization, they hoped their luck would shift with the start of a new season. Their hard work was rewarded on Sunday when Dillon pedaled the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS to a 21st place, lead lap finish in the Kobalt 400, leaving the team with their best-ever result at the challenging intermediate-sized racetrack.
When practice got underway on Friday, Dillon and his GEICO Chevy ended up 28th on the board, but quickly recovered when the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate advanced to the second round of qualifying and posted the 24th fastest time in the session.
Starting 24th on Sunday, Dillon immediately picked up a position and would run on the lead lap for the majority of the day. He lost a lap to the leaders on just a couple of occasions, but would quickly recover and return to the lead lap with the assistance of crew chief Bootie Barker's race strategy. By lap 127, Dillon and his No. 13 GEICO Chevy sat atop the scoring tower when he led the event for two laps and placed the famous Gecko on display for the crowded grandstands to admire. The Germain Racing pit crew contributed to the effort by working efficiently throughout the afternoon, assisting the GEICO car in gaining positions during multiple pit stops. When the checkered flag closed out an exciting day of racing, Dillon crossed the finish line on the lead lap, in the 21st position.
After falling victim to a Daytona crash in February that collected over a dozen racecars, Dillon was left at a points deficit. His strong effort a week ago at Atlanta and Sunday's solid Las Vegas finish now have him 23rd in the point standings, just 21-points removed from Denny Hamlin in the 15th position and a mere two-points out of 20th.
"My No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet team worked hard out there today. We did everything we could, but we just didn't have the speed that some of the other cars did," Dillon said after the race. "We battled through some issues. At times we were okay, but we were falling off there at the end. We fought hard and improved from where we started the race, so that's a positive. We've still got some things we need to work on, but I'm proud of our effort today. We'll get them next week in Phoenix."
Germain Racing will continue the west coast tour when they now travel to Phoenix, Arizona, for race number three of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Phoenix International Raceway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, March 17th, at 2:00 PM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 7:45 PM (ET).
The Camping World 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is on Sunday, March 19th, 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.