Austin Dillon just wanted to finish. Involved in the last-lap crash at Daytona International Speedway in the regular-season finale, Dillon tried to get his car back to the finish line because he wasn’t sure where Richard Childress Racing teammate Tyler Reddick finished or was also collected in the chaos.
Instead, Dillon sat hopelessly in Turns 3 and 4. His No. 3 Chevrolet stuck on the banking, and Dillon’s playoff hopes dashed as Reddick did make it to the finish line for a sixth-place. Meanwhile, Dillon was left with a DNF and credited with 18th place.
“It’s just like, ‘Oh well,’” said Dillon. “Unfortunate. I was wanting to come around and finish.”
As Dillon stood with the media digesting and dissected his efforts, cheers could be heard just a few feet away. Reddick, in his second season, was being congratulated for making the postseason for the first time.
Dillon was the first driver below the cutline. He and Reddick battled for the final spot over the last few weeks and came into the night 25 points apart. Knowing the mission, Dillon raced as hard as he could in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 to gain stage points throughout the night and put himself in position coming to the checkered flag.
“I definitely put myself in as many positions tonight to lead laps and win the race,” Dillon said. “I hate that we didn’t get a victory throughout the year because this year was kind of a one-off year where a ton of people got to victory lane, and we beat a lot of those guys on points, but it didn’t matter because wins matter now.
“We were close a couple of times, it just didn’t pan out.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 29, 2021
The final wreck of the night was the one that caught Dillon after he missed the two previous multi-car crashes and recovered from a battery change. The No. 3 team swapped batteries after a lap 146 caution and subsequent red flag.
Dillon doesn’t believe faulty voltage issue hurt his team because they climbed to fourth place ahead of the overtime attempt. He was inside the top five at the white flag and still in the main pack when collected in the crash going into Turn 3.
“Unfortunate,” Dillon said. “We raced our tails off. Hats off to all my guys on the 3 team, they built two rocket ships (for Michigan and Daytona) for me to try to get in with, and we just came up short. But we’ll build on this and try to finish off the year strong.”