Early in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Germain Racing has experienced significant improvement in their practice and qualifying speeds over a year ago. As this year’s west coast swing got underway, Ty Dillon and the GEICO team looked to continue their quick ways as NASCAR debuted their new and complete higher-downforce, lower-horsepower package this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In practice on Friday, Dillon seemed to settle into the brand new aero package with relative ease, as he hurriedly wheeled his No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 around the 1.5-mile tri-oval. The 27-year old Welcome, NC, native ended up 20th on the speed chart when the weekend’s opening practice session drew to a close.
Dillon would provide an encore performance of speed when qualifying got underway on Friday evening, pedaling the GEICO machine around the high-speed racetrack in a prompt 30.061-seconds, at a speed of 179.635-miles per hour. His effort landed the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 14th on Sunday’s starting grid and was a sizeable improvement from a year ago when the team qualified 31st.
Unfortunately, the crew detected an issue in one of the cylinders in the engine after Happy Hour on Saturday. In order to avoid a potential engine problem on race day, Germain Racing opted to make an engine change. According to the NASCAR rulebook, any team who changes engines is required to surrender their qualifying position and, instead, start the race from the rear of the field.
When the green flag signaled the start of Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, Dillon began his journey from the back of the field, but remained there only momentarily. The young gun went on a tear with his No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 that saw him pass 18 cars in the opening two laps and land inside of the top-20. Dillon’s charge through the field had a familiar feel, as he put on display the speed he exhibited in practice and qualifying earlier in the weekend. He also worked his way into the top-10 and sat as high as eighth when pit stops got underway later in the 267-lap event.
The No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 soon became loose and Dillon found himself at odds with his racecar. In a race where the only two cautions came during the stage breaks, it made it challenging to make any adjustments to the car. Dillon battled hard and continued to hustle while awaiting much needed pit stops. The Germain Racing crew made necessary changes to the GEICO Camaro ZL1 during the stage breaks, as well as scheduled green flag pit stops, allowing Dillon to pick up speed and log top-ten lap times as the race began to wind down. Despite his best efforts, Dillon crossed the finish line in the 29thposition when the checkered flag closed out 400-miles of racing.
“There is still a lot left to learn with this new package, there’s no doubt about it,” Dillon said after the race. “Our GEICO Camaro ZL1 is showing speed in practice and in qualifying. As we continue to run with this package, we will be able to make it all come together during the race. We want to have the advantage over the field, so we will keep grinding at the shop and at the track to learn everything we possibly can about the new rules package. I’m proud of this team’s hustle here in Las Vegas, and I’m excited to turn our focus to Phoenix.”
NASCAR’s west coast swing continues, as Germain Racing now makes their way to Phoenix, AZ, for race number four of the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season. Ty Dillon and the No. 13 GEICO Camaro ZL1 will hit the track at ISM Raceway for the weekend’s opening practice session on Friday, March 8th, at 1:35 PM (ET). Qualifying will follow at 6:10 PM (ET).