Austin Dillon: ‘The Fords are absolutely kicking our tails’


Dismayed by a 26th-place result and finishing five laps behind the leaders, Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon vowed on a Periscope message to fans Sunday that “we’re going to flip this around.’’

But Dillon acknowledged that he and all of Richard Childress Racing have much to do to learn how to make the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 more competitive.

“Here’s the deal, today sucked,’’ Dillon said on his Periscope video. “For everybody at RCR, the silver lining is it’s one race. We’ve got to go work on our cars to get them better. We’ve got to work on the Camaro ZL1. The Fords are absolutely kicking our tails.

“I’m committed to going to work, and everybody at RCR is committed to going to work. We’re going to flip this around. Positive thing is we won the Daytona 500, we got a win in our back pocket, but we’ve got to go to work. Can’t run like this.

“All the fans, Austin Dillon fans, RCR fans, know that we are working hard, we have been working hard, we’ve just got to change directions. We’ll keep putting in the effort. The team is doing everything they can and we’ve just got to think harder and smarter.’’

Dillon remains the only Chevrolet driver to have won this season, making him the only Chevy driver qualified for the playoffs at this point.

It’s not just Dillon and the rest of RCR who have struggled in the Chevy camp.

Chevy has failed to lead at least a lap in three races this season — the first time that has happened to the manufacturer since 1982. Sunday, Chevrolet led 26 of 400 laps (all by Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman). That marks the eighth time in the first 11 races this season that Chevrolet has led 30 or less laps in a race.

Kevin Harvick has led a series-high 741 laps. Chevrolet drivers have combined to lead 408 laps.

Harvick was dominant Sunday, leading 201 of 400 laps.

“Yeah, the 4 car was unreal,’’ Dillon said on Periscope. “He comes by you at a whole other level of speed. It’s unreal what he can do through the corner. He’s carrying a whole couple of mile an hour more than us through the center (of the corner). Pretty impressive. Pretty impressive what he’s doing.’’

Fords have won six of the first 11 races.

“Why are the Fords so dominant? I think in the offseason when we put the ZL1 body on, they were able to kind of tune on their race car while we were building race cars and putting bodies on, so we’re still just trying to figure it out.’’

Dillon knows his team and all of RCR can be better.

“We will get it going,’’ Dillon said. “I have all the faith in Chevy and RCR. Truthfully, Chevy has given us what we need. We just need to figure out how to use it. Figure out how to use it to our best advantage and get it back in the winner’s circle.

“We’re definitely still learning about the Camaro. We haven’t figured out our aero balance yet. Just at a (tire) test at Michigan a couple of weeks ago, we were moving things around  trying to figure out the aero balance. We’d pick up speed and not understand why. I think that’s a big part, we just don’t know the proper way to use the car yet.’’

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NASCAR teams, groups approved for millions in federal COVID-19 loans

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Several NASCAR teams and related organizations were approved for between $150,000 and $10 million in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPE), according to data provided Monday.

The U.S. Small Business Administration posted a list of PPP loan data on the U.S. Department of the Treasury website. The Paycheck Protection Program was included in the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was established to help businesses weather the financial stress of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Among the many NASCAR teams, racetracks and related organizations (with data including the range of the loan and the number of jobs retained):

* Richard Childress Racing ($5-$10 million, 334 jobs)

* Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates ($2-5 million, 179 jobs)

* Roush Fenway Racing ($2-5 million, 179 jobs)

* Roush & Yates Racing Engines ($2-5 million, 192 jobs)

* JTG Daugherty Racing ($1-2 million, 88 jobs)

* GMS Racing ($1-$2 million, 89 jobs)

* Kyle Busch Motorsports ($1-$2 million, 71 jobs)

* JR Motorsports ($1-$2 million, 88 jobs)

* Germain Racing ($350,000-$1 million, 41 jobs)

* Richard Petty Motorsports ($350,000-$1 million, 43 jobs)

* Dale Earnhardt Inc. ($350,000-$1 million, 55 jobs)

* DGR-Crosley ($350,000-$1 million, 67 jobs)

* Premium Motorsports ($350,000-$1 million, 46 jobs)

* Pocono International Raceway ($350,000-$1 million, 142 jobs)

* Hattori Racing ($150,000-$350,000, 16 jobs)

* Jimmie Johnson Racing ($150,00-$350,000, 8 jobs)

* Motor Racing Outreach ($150,000-$350,000, 9 jobs)

* Rev Racing ($150,000-$350,000, 12 jobs)

* Starcom Racing ($150,000-$350,000, 20 jobs)

* Kaulig Racing ($350,000-$1 million, 36 jobs)

* Mesa Marin Raceway ($150,000-$350,000, 16 jobs)

* Bill McAnally Racing ($150,000-$350,000, 19 jobs)

* Young’s Motorsports ($150,000-$350,000, 0 jobs)

* JD Motorsports ($150,000-$350,000, 0 jobs)

In a statement accompanying the data, the SBA said the data was for businesses that were approved for PPP loans but “does not reflect a determination by SBA that the borrower is eligible for a PPP loan or entitled to loan forgiveness. All PPP loans are subject to SBA review, and all loans over $2 million will automatically be reviewed.”

Contributing: Nate Ryan

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Bump and Run: Should Cup race on the Indy road course?

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Should the Cup Series remain on the oval at Indy or should it move to the road course like Xfinity did this weekend?

Dustin Long: I’d rather see what the Next Gen car could do on the oval before abandoning that for the the road course. Stay on the oval for now.

Daniel McFadin: I’m firmly in the #MoreRoadCourses camp and Cup should give Indy’s a shot. It doesn’t need to replace the oval race, but Saturday’s Xfinity race was more memorable than any Brickyard 400 in my memory.

Jerry Bonkowski: Both. I think NASCAR should hold a weekend doubleheader at Indy next season (and beyond), with a road course race on Saturday and oval race on Sunday. For even added measure, switch them around for every other subsequent year.

Chase Briscoe said before the season started he felt he needed at least 8 Xfinity wins to move up to Cup. He now has five victories through 13 races. How many wins will he get this year?

Dustin Long: Twelve.

Daniel McFadin: I had my doubts Briscoe could get to eight wins, mostly because he’d never had more than one win in his previous two Xfinity seasons. But he arguably should be at six wins. I think he’ll at least get to nine wins.

Jerry Bonkowski: I can see him winning nine races at least … and maybe as many as 12. He is definitely on a roll and no one else is even close to him, not just in wins but overall performance.

Kyle Busch has one win in the last 38 Cup races. Does he win in any of the next four points races (Kentucky, Texas, Kansas and New Hampshire)?

Dustin Long: No. Team hasn’t shown elite level speed to contend for wins. He’s led 130 laps this season and 100 of those laps came at Bristol. Can’t lead, can’t win.

Daniel McFadin: I think he wins one of them. If he doesn’t, then his team will be on red alert when teammate Denny Hamlin is on a roll right now.

Jerry Bonkowski: I think Texas offers him the best opportunity to win at in the next four tracks. He’s won there three times there in his Cup career (he’s also won three times at New Hampshire, which would be my secondary choice for Busch). There’s just something about Texas that seems to bring out the best in Busch and the No. 18.

Xfinity playoff grid after Indianapolis

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Chase Briscoe‘s continued dominance of the Xfinity Series over the weekend on the Indianapolis road course ensured no additional drivers locked themselves into the 12-driver playoff field.

Through 13 races, Briscoe and four other drivers have qualified for the playoffs via race wins. Briscoe, who has five race wins, leads the field with 28 playoff points.

The last two drivers currently in the top 12 are Riley Herbst (+19 points above cutline) and Brandon Brown (+6 points).

The first four drivers outside the top 12 are Myatt Snider (-6), Alex Labbe (-32), Jeremy Clements (-49) and Josh Williams (-57).

Cup Series playoff grid after Brickyard 400

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With Kevin Harvick‘s victory Sunday in the Brickyard 400, no additional drivers locked themselves into the Cup Series playoff field.

But there was some movement at the bottom of the playoff grid as drivers jockey to make the 16-car field.

After he missed the race due to his COVID-19 diagnosis, Jimmie Johnson fell from 12th to 15th on the grid. He’s now 36 points above the cutline.

Matt DiBenedetto earned stage points in each stage before finishing 19th. He moved from 14th to 12th in the standings.

After earning stage points in both stages Sunday, Austin Dillon has cracked the top 16, moving up one spot. He has a six-point advantage over Erik Jones, who crashed out of Sunday’s race and had a 14-point advantage over Dillon entering the weekend.

With his ninth-place finish Sunday, Bubba Wallace is now within reach of the top 16. He sits at 19th, 42 points back from 16th.

Here’s the full playoff grid.