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Dillon Notches First Top Five of 2023 at Bristol Dirt

(Photo: Trish McCormack | The Podium Finish)

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Austin Dillon qualified his No. 3 Chevrolet in the top 10 and kept it there for most of the night, recording a third-place finish in Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Dillon showcased the speed of his car early in the weekend as he started fifth in a heat race Saturday comprised of prime dirt racers Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Justin Haley. He wheeled his way to the front for the win and a spot on the front row to start Sunday’s holiday event.

Dillon had a fairly uneventful — but successful evening, finishing second in each stage. He battled teammate Kyle Busch and 23XI drivers Reddick and Bubba Wallace early on and maintained pace throughout the 250-lap showcase.

In the closing laps, Dillon had dropped outside the top five, but contact between Chase Briscoe and Ryan Blaney sent the latter spinning across traffic. Dillon pounced, steering toward the outside to avoid the carnage and rejoin the top five.

Bell won the race for his first victory of the season and Reddick finished second. Dillon, despite rounding out the podium, said he wasn’t good enough to race for the win down the stretch.

“That was a fun time. I really wish we could have brought home the No. 3 BREZTRI Chevy into victory lane,” Dillon said. “We were second in both stages and getting a third-place finish was big for us. Getting the momentum rolling. I had a lot of fun out there. Just wasn’t good enough against the fence when it mattered. We needed the track to kind of go back to our run. Right there at the end, we were kind of circling the middle and the car was really good. The No. 3 BREZTRI Chevy was fast, just not enough at the end.”

(Photo: Trish McCormack | The Podium Finish)

As the race progressed, the dirt got packed down and the track became a multi-groove racing surface. Dillon, like many other top finishers, praised the track conditions after the third Cup Series dirt race at Bristol.

“I just have to thank SMI for all of the hard work they’ve done with this dirt racing,” Dillon said. “I don’t care what anybody says, that was an amazing show throughout the field. I felt like it was some great racing.”

Dillon recorded his second top-five finish of the season after finishing ninth at Auto Club Speedway, a race that Busch won for Richard Childress Racing. Dillon has failed to complete two races (Daytona and COTA), but has otherwise lacked pace and handling. At Richmond Raceway last week, Dillon finished 25th.

Sunday’s result snapped a five-race streak of finishes outside the top 15. Through eight races, Dillon has an average finish of 20.8 and is 22nd in driver’s points, 124 behind Ross Chastain in the lead.

Dillon is off to Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, April 16 for the NOCO 400. The race is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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