Austin Dillon will get to experience a career first in his 113th Sprint Cup start.
Just not a good one.
After crashing in the final 10 minutes of a morning practice session Friday, Dillon will use a backup car Sunday for the first time. Dillon lost control of his No. 3 Chevrolet entering Turn 1 and hit the outside wall with his right rear.
“Just trying to find some extra speed and drove a little too hard I guess ” Dillon said. “We just didn’t have it together as good as we wanted to in that first practice.”
Dillon took the backup car and qualified 29th, joining Chris Buescher as the only Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers to not advance out of the first round.
“I’ve never had to go to a backup,” Dillon said. “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.”
This “first” and the poor qualifying result comes at a slightly inconvenient time, with Dillon in his first Chase for the Sprint Cup. The Richard Childress Racing driver is 13th on the Chase grid, one point out of 12th, the final transfer spot to the second round.
Dillon said the backup car is a “little older” car than his primary, but is similar to the one he raced at New Hampshire in July. In that race, Dillon had an average running spot of 15.93 and finished 13th.
“I feel like we can gain points here this weekend,” Dillon said. “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 … I feel like this is a place where we can gain positions.”
In five New Hampshire starts in the Cup series, Dillon has an average start of 20th and an average finish of 13.6.