When participating in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, each team must not only compete against the stiffest competition in stock car racing, but also endure hundreds of miles to make it to the checkered flag. Ty Dillon and his GEICO Racing team entered Michigan International Speedway prepared for a grind and looked to continue their string of four consecutive top-20 finishes. After a loose-handling condition for most of the 400-mile event, Dillon and the team persevered to bring home a solid 21st-place finish.
Taking off from the 33rd starting position, Dillon and the Germain Racing team entered the 200-lap event with an optimistic outlook, while knowing patience and strategy would be keys to a solid finish. In the opening circuit, Dillon gained five positions to move into 28th-place, but quickly the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Contender reported the GEICO Chevrolet was extremely "loose and even worse in traffic." With the race remaining caution-free, Crew Chief Bootie Barker called Dillon to pit road on lap 44 for a scheduled green flag stop for two right side tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Shortly after the field cycled through pit stops, the opening stage came to a conclusion on lap 60 with the first yellow flag.
Using pit strategy to regain a spot on the lead lap, Barker instructed Dillon to take the wave-around, placing the GEICO Chevrolet in the 27th position on the lap 67 restart. The second 60-lap stage saw more of the same for Dillon, as the No. 13 machine remained loose in traffic and the field ran caution-free until the stage break on lap 120.
After pitting for four tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments, Dillon restarted from the 28th position on lap 128. Slowly the tide began to turn for the GEICO Racing team, as the 25-year-old moved into the top-25 with 50 laps remaining and never looked back. When a caution was displayed with 14 laps to go, Barker instructed Dillon to take the wave-around once again and return to the lead lap. A timely yellow came just a handful of laps later as the No. 13 Chevrolet ran out of fuel as Dillon entered pit road.
Once the Germain Racing pit crew serviced the car with four fresh tires and fuel, Dillon restarted from 23rd-place for a green-white-checkered finish. During the two-lap overtime shootout, the young gun gained two positions to cross the finish line in the 21st position.
"The balance of our GEICO Chevrolet felt a lot better yesterday in practice than it did today, but we were able to bring the car to us with some wedge adjustments," said Dillon, after the race. "We had a fast race car there towards the end. The strategy was to go long on fuel mileage in the final stage of the race and it worked great. We were able to pit for four fresh tires and fuel and get a decent finish at the end of the day."
Dillon and his No. 13 GEICO Racing team will head to Chicagoland Speedway this week for a two-day test, before traveling to Bristol Motor Speedway for short-track racing under the lights. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will take to the half-mile on Friday, August 18th for opening practice at 10:00 am ET, with qualifying scheduled for 5:45 pm ET.
The green flag will fly for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, August 19th at 7:30 pm ET. NBC will carry the live television broadcast, with the Performance Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 carrying the live radio broadcast.