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Austin Dillon Makes a Splash in Clash with Silver Medal

Austin Dillon starts 2023 with a solid showing in Los Angeles (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish).

LOS ANGELES – Richard Childress Racing were one of the few teams who ended Sunday’s Busch Light Clash on a good note.

Notably, Austin Dillon earned a workmanlike second place finish.

Rolling off tenth in the 150-lap main event, Dillon proved to be no slouch behind the wheel.

Scratching and clawing through the competition, there was no stopping him from kicking off 2023 with a confidence booster. Despite late race contact with Bubba Wallace, Dillon was all smiles after rounding out the podium with the No. 3 Chevrolet improving as the night unraveled.

“It was really fun. Our car was really good. It really kind of turned on that last practice. We figured out that our car was pretty good on the long run. We were able to qualify decent, which is good for us. Not a great qualifier usually at the short tracks,” Dillon said.

Dillon considered his chances at victory had there been a couple more cautions.

Surely, Dillon thought that he had a shot at race winner, Martin Truex Jr. Alas, he credited his new teammate, Kyle Busch, on helping him out to get in the spot he wound up.

“Felt like if we could just maintain we could have a shot. Kyle helped me there at the end,” he said. “He knew we had a fast car, so let me try and got a shot at Martin. That was nice, so hopefully, I can pay back the favor we go to Daytona and work together well. It’s a great start for all of us.”

There was plentiful contact in Sunday night’s race with 11 of the 16 cautions coming in the second half of the main event. Dillon alluded to venues such as Bowman Gray Stadium as the fender benders gave off such vibe for some racers when the bumping takes a toll on the already fierce Cup drivers.

“Everybody knows here that there’s going to be contact. The first 30 laps my head was against the head rest probably every lap. It was just bang, bang, back and forth, every corner. I couldn’t believe how aggressive it was the first run. There was nothing but just hammer each other and hope to come out the other side,” Dillon said.

“I got hit one time at the end. I was telling Kyle, when we got back in line, it knocked the wheel out of my hands. I couldn’t believe it. Just kind of picked up the gas and caught it back.

“But you’re taking some pretty good blows out there and trying to stay calm. I think Martin got mad at me one time, and it was the 24 driving through me. The hard part is knowing if it’s the guy behind you or if it’s the guy two behind you or even three. You’ve got to have a short memory about it.”

Fender rubs a plenty throughout the night (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish).

It was at this moment when Dillon brought up the contact with Wallace. Although there were not any discussions following the race, Dillon is certain that there will be one before Daytona.

“Obviously, Bubba knocked me through the corner. I was going to hit him back,” Dillon on Wallace. “Didn’t mean to turn him like that, but when it gets down to the end I think everybody knows what’s going on, and that’s what you see at places like this and Bowman Gray Stadium.”

With one race under their belt, Dillon shared some joy on what’s to come in 2023 with Busch being his teammate and having similar chemistry when it boils down to car setups.

“I think the other good part is some of the things that we like in a race car — what I was excited about, because I’ve watched Kyle’s data over the years, and the way he approaches the setup of a car and things I think we’re actually pretty close. Like our delta would be close,” Dillon on Busch.

“That’s nice to be able to hopefully work off of that, and we’re only going to be able to build off that as we go and find those places that when we have a good run, where do I need to be setup-wise compared to him to echo that.”

Next up will be Daytona International Speedway, site of Dillon’s most recent Cup win as he was victorious in last August’s race. Dillon hopes to leave Daytona in two weeks time as a two-time Daytona 500 champion.

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR, INDYCAR and ARCA. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. I've dealt with several challenges in my life, such as autism and making most out of trips despite relying on transportation. Even my quest of finding acceptance in my profession which has been my biggest challenge since graduating from college in 2016. Despite those hurdles with Motorsports Tribune and now The Podium Finish, I promise that you'll see excellence with my content. With two National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. Not only that, expect my social media filled with references nobody will understand, especially Licorice Pizza.

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