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NASCAR Cup Series

Austin Dillon Gears Up for Action Packed Richmond Race

Austin Dillon may be ranked 29th in the points standings, but he’s still determined to make the Playoffs. (Photo: Mitchell Richmyre | The Podium Finish)

RICHMOND, Va. – When Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Club Chevrolet team prepared for 2023, they likely did not anticipate the kind of season they have endured.

On paper, a season with a single top five finish and five top 10s would seem respectable. However, in concert with a steep penalty after Martinsville and seven Did Not Finishes (DNFs), the 33-year-old racer ranks 29th in the championship standings.

At this juncture, the path to the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs becomes quite narrow for the Richard Childress Racing driver. A win in one of the next five races is the most realistic option to join the field of 16 at the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Ahead of those hopeful prospects, Dillon hopes to make some noise in the Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway. Starting from the 17th position, Dillon has a respectable spot to make some noise in the early going of the 400-lap race.

Dillon has a positive relationship with the 0.75-mile short track, particularly in terms of the comfort and drive of his No. 3 car at “The Action Track.”

“Richmond Raceway has been one of the best tracks for my No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Off Road team to run at over the last couple of years,” Dillon said in a team press release. “Since we have been racing there in the Cup Series for the last nine races, we have had five top-10 finishes.

“There is a good feel for the track that I have developed over the years. I think we should go out there and try to be in a position to run in the front, to have a chance to win, and to be locked into the NASCAR Playoffs as early as possible.”

There is no better way to create some action at Richmond than with a win for Austin Dillon and his No. 3 team. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

In Dillon’s past six starts at Richmond, he has tallied three top 10 finishes, including a fourth in the 2020 Cook Out 400. With an average finish of 12.67, it is easy to see why he holds the short track with such high regard.

“In my opinion, Richmond Raceway is one of the best short tracks in the country,” he said. “It is fast, it is a fun track, and it is also one of the most challenging for a driver to keep up with the track conditions as rubber lays down and the temperature drops throughout the day. It is very difficult to keep the car’s balance the entire time.”

Surprisingly, the Welcome, North Carolina native did not always have warm feelings for the staple short track in The Dominion State. From his perspective, as he fights to tally one of the remaining Playoff spots available during Sunday’s race, he points out to the beloved struggle between drivers and the importance of tire management.

“In the beginning, I disliked Richmond Raceway for a long time, but as time passed, I have grown to enjoy racing there and have come to appreciate it,” Dillon said. “As a short track, it is a good place to enjoy a Sunday afternoon race, and it is fun to watch the strategy part of 400 laps play out during the race.

“Some guys will take multiple sets of tires during a stage, while others will only take one set of tires and try to make a full run on that one set. As a result of the track surface being worn out, the racing action is slick and enjoyable.”


Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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