In a sport where there is one winner and 30-plus losers every weekend, where victories and championships are always the main stories, a 15th-place finish usually goes unnoticed. In racing, the measure of success often goes by who is near the top of the leaderboard, finishing order, and championship standings.
For Ty Dillon, Germain Racing, and all those invested in the No. 13 Chevrolet, however, a top 15 was precisely the type of day they could have wanted.
“We got to keep things in perspective for our team,” said Dillon.
On that basis, it wasn’t surprising when the team’s official Twitter account posted a video on Monday showing Dillon and crew chief Matt Borland addressing the shop floor. Every February the team holds a celebratory toast to kick off the season, but this week was the first time they’ve had one in-season to mark off an accomplishment.
Dillon’s finish might not have been noteworthy to some, but there was no missing his winning Stage 1 of the Food City 500. Lined up alongside Stewart-Haas Racing driver Clint Bowyer, who also stayed out under caution with seven laps left in the stage, Dillon didn’t roll over for the veteran and put up a valiant fight in the outside lane for the two green flag laps. He finished a bumper ahead of Bowyer for the stage win.
“To win a stage for Germain Racing, that’s huge,” said Dillon. “It was an emotional moment, just because of the hard work that’s gone into the last three years. There’s been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of disappointments, some high moments, but that was definitely the highest one.
“Sometimes you just got to let the emotion go (on the radio), kind of let it out, then you keep digging, and we still finished on the lead lap and got a top 15. That’s our fourth of the year, and we’re proud of what we’re doing this year, and we expect more good things. Our short track program is really strong.”
On the team radio, a pumped-up Dillon said he felt like crying after winning the stage – which would have been a first. He also admitted that the result goes a long way for his confidence.
“It does a lot to go head-to-head on old tires and beat some of the best with the best equipment and a lot of money behind them, and show a lot of people what we can do with our race team,” said Dillon. “I’m proud of our effort. Matt Borland’s led a great race team, and we got a lot of great guys at the shop, and we’re building a great program.”
Sitting 22nd in the standings, Dillon has an average starting spot of 18.5 and an average finish of 18.9 after the first eight races. A sixth-place finish in the Daytona 500 tied Dillon’s career-best effort, and is his only top-10 finish of the season.
Daytona. ISM Raceway (15th). Martinsville (13th). Bristol. Performances like those are wins for teams like Dillon & Co.
“Definitely it’s our goal week in and week out to run top 15,” he said. “I think as we improve as a team, we’ll bump that goal up, but a top 15 is great.”