Embarking on the second race of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Racing team looked to put the misfortune of Speedweeks in the rearview mirror and shift their attention to the first 1.5-mile track on the schedule. With an unfavorable forecast predicting rain for all of Sunday afternoon, weather delayed the start of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway by two and a half hours. But once the green flag flew, the storm system shifted west of the track, allowing the field to complete the entirety of the 325-lap event. With rain becoming a non-factor, tires and handling came to the forefront, as fresh rubber allowed substantial speed advances on the worn racing surface.
After rolling from the 28th starting position, Dillon quickly gained three spots on the opening lap to enter the top-25. However, within 15 laps, the GEICO Camaro ZL1 “lacked forward drive,” which relegated Dillon back to his original starting spot. Throughout the 500-mile race, the 25-year-old found himself battling to find the perfect balance between improving the forward drive and hindering the handling stability. Crew chief Matt Borland and the entire Germain Racing team fought to help the young gun, but as a blistering pace was set by eventual race winner Kevin Harvick, the opportunities dwindled to use varying pit strategies and make improvements. When the checkered flag flew under the lights, Dillon crossed the finish line in the 26th position.
“Atlanta is a tough racetrack,” said Dillon, after the race. “You have to be on top of your game at all times to get a handle on it because of how worn out the surface is. Unfortunately, it got the better of us and our GEICO Camaro ZL1 today. I struggled with forward drive throughout the race. I worked my track bar to try and get the drive I needed, but what I did to improve the drive would hurt other areas of my balance. Matt Borland (crew chief) and the engineers didn’t give up though. They kept making adjustments and trying different strategies. It’s disappointing, but we’ll take our notes from this race to help prepare ourselves for Las Vegas next weekend.”
Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Racing team will now head west, as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series embarks on Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday, March 2nd for opening practice at 2:00PM ET, with qualifying scheduled to take place later that evening at 7:15PM ET.
The green flag will fly on Sunday, March 4th at 3:30 pm ET. FOX will carry the live telecast, with the Performance Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 carrying the live radio broadcast.
PMI PR/Photo Credit Suzanne Disspain/Pit Stop Radio/Speedway Digest