Chevy Racing–NASCAR–Talladega–Trio Moves to Round of 8

OCTOBER 23, 2016

Johnson, Harvick and Busch remain in hunt for NASCAR Sprint Cup title

TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 23, 2016) – Three of Team Chevy’s best will race on in the Chase for the Sprint Cup after Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch each advanced to the Round of 8 with four races remaining in this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign.

Johnson in the No. 48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet SS finished the Round of 12 with the second-most points among eligible drivers with Harvick and the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS third in the standings. Each had won a race in the Round of 12 to clinch a spot in the final four events – Johnson at Charlotte and Harvick at Kansas.

Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS, left Talladega seventh in the point standings following his fourth-place finish in Sunday’s race. It was a remarkable comeback from Busch, who was 13th with 36 laps to go.

All three drivers – and the other five championship contenders – have their point totals reset to 4,000 heading into next week’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

Team Chevy had five drivers finish in the top-10 Sunday. Busch was fourth with Kyle Larson sixth in the No. 42 Energizer Chevrolet SS. Harvick placed seventh, followed by Austin Dillon ninth in the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS. Dillon finished tied for the final transfer spot into the Round of 8 but missed out on the tiebreaker.

Rookie of the Year contender and first-time Chase participant Chase Elliott was in a virtual must-win situation on Sunday at Talladega. Elliott, in the No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, led the race five times for nine laps but became mired back in the pack in the late stages and finished 12th. The top-15 effort was not enough to advance Elliott to the next round of the Chase, but he still leads the Rookie of the Year standings as the season comes to a close.

AJ Allmendinger in the No. 47 Kroger/Scott Products Chevrolet SS placed 10th, his second career top-10 finish at the 2.66-mile track.

Four different Chevrolet SS drivers led at least one lap Sunday – Elliott, Dillon, Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS and Michael Annett in the No. 46 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet SS.

The next race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 from Martinsville Speedway at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 30. It will air live on NBC Sports Network and MRN.


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet.

The tiebreaker in the Chase standings didn’t quite work your way. Talk about that and your first Chase experience.

AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, you know, it’s heartbreaking obviously. You need a spot, and it comes down to three one‑thousandths I think between the 43 car.

I’m just proud of this team. We made it a full ‘nother round. Thought we were going to make it another one, but it didn’t work out for us. But thank to our partners, Dow, American Ethanol, everybody.

I don’t think we had it today to really mix it up up front. Might have waited a little too long. We tried to get track position one time, but it didn’t work out.

I put my car in the places I thought it would work the best in that last lap and a half. My teammates stuck with me. I’m proud and thankful for them. Just missed it by a spot.

Q. What was the intent on the final laps? Was it just to get as many positions? Were you watching Denny?

AUSTIN DILLON: I just tried to get as many spots as I could, pulled out of the line, gained a few. Man, perfect storm kind of. It was working out really good in the middle of the race when the 78, 2 kind of fell out. We made it to where we needed to with just a green‑white‑checkered. We’re up there in the pack, teammates behind us. Weren’t able to pull it off.

But it was close. I got to thank the teammates that helped me out, though.

Q. Does this make you even more determined over the final four races to get the best possible finishes you can, to finish the highest you’ve ever done in the points?

AUSTIN DILLON: Oh, yeah. We want to finish I think the highest we finished is ninth, we’re probably sitting there right now. Four tracks left. Just want to finish in the top 10 in points. Obviously that would be very great. If we can do that, that would be successful.

But sure stinks to miss it by a tiebreaker going on to the next group of cars. But thankful for the opportunity that I’ve been given and we’ll keep working.

Q. You mentioned teammates working with you. How much help were they? Was it a situation where without them you wouldn’t have been in the shape you were in?

AUSTIN DILLON: They did a good job. You know, top restarts were worth a few positions. Had to restart on the bottom. Trying to wedge my way up. I did it, but I got put three‑wide. Took a few laps. The 31 dove in behind me. The 31 helped a ton today. He was glued to my back bumper the last couple laps. That was really nice.

It was an interesting race for sure, to say the least.

THE MODERATOR: Austin, thanks for joining us this afternoon. Good luck with the rest of the season.