Austin Dillon "throwing caution to the wind" at Talladega

Jim Utter

Dillon and Richard Childress Racing as a whole have been able to match speed with much more consistent race finishes so far this year, giving both Dillon and teammate Tyler Reddick the ability to garner strong results.

Through 12 races, Dillon has one top-five and four top-10 finishes and ranks 16th in the series standings. After 12 races last season, Dillon had only a pair of top-10s and failed to finish in the top-five all year.

“It’s been an awesome year so far. I always want more. But, I mean, compared to years past, I’m very optimistic of where we are; especially last year to this year, a big jump,” Dillon, 30, said. “Those jumps are hard to come by.

“Tyler, coming in the off-season with an Xfinity championship, brought some momentum. I think it fired up everybody. It fired up myself to compete. He’s a good wheelman.

“It builds both teams to kind of compete within and that comes with these good finishes we’re having. The competition is great at RCR. And you’ve got to have that.”

Dillon, whose most recent Cup series win came in the 2018 Daytona 500, looks forward to a return to superspeedway racing this weekend at Talladega, a view not necessarily shared by all his fellow drivers.

Changes from Daytona

Following Ryan Newman’s wreck on the last lap of this year’s Daytona 500, NASCAR has implemented some aero changes which drivers really won’t be able to gauge until they take the green flag since there will be no practice or qualifying.

“I don’t know what the closest year that we ran a package like this would be. But, we feel like the racing is going to be different from the way it was at Daytona. It always is different from Daytona to Talladega,” he said.

“So, I’d say the first stage of the race will definitely be a learning curve for just about all of us. Set-up wise should not be a problem. I hope not. But, just the way we race and the runs you get, we’ll be learning that first stage. And, you want to be aggressive because every point matters throughout the year.”

Strategy to win

While Dillon admits being “a little more cautious” probably helped him earn his 2018 victory in the 500, he doesn’t plan a repeat of that strategy on Sunday.

“I’ve done a lot of different strategies when it comes to speedway racing, but my favorite is just going out there and racing and kind of throwing caution to the wind,” Dillon said. “I feel like that usually plays out better for us.

“I won the Daytona 500 being a little more cautious, but it’s just more fun that way when you go out there and race. So, we’ll see. We’ll make a decision quite early in the race to kind of figure out how everything is going.

“Hopefully all of our Chevys will run up-front together and work hard together to do what we need to do to bring home the win for Chevrolet.”

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