Dillon Scores Top-20 at Daytona Road Course
No. 96 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Camry Driver Avoids Chaos to Finish 19th
Date: Feb. 21, 2021
Event: O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 (Round 2 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (14-turn, 3.61-mile road course)
Format: 70 laps, broken into three stages (16 laps/18 laps/36 laps)
Start/Finish: 38th / 19th (Running, completed 70 of 70 laps)
Race Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-16):
● Ty Dillon started 38th and finished 26th.
● Dillon drove the No. 96 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Camry to 32nd on just the first lap.
● After five laps, Dillon was up to 26th.
● On lap seven while racing in 25th, Dillon radioed that his car felt “a little numb” on the left-hand corners.
● Pitted under caution on lap 12 for four tires and fuel with a track-bar adjustment.
● Lined up 24th for lap-14 restart.
● After finishing 26th in the stage, Dillon pitted for four tires and fuel.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 17-34):
● Dillon started 36th and finished 36th.
● The No. 96 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Camry began this stage at the tail end of the longest line after a pit-road penalty – too many men over the wall on the previous stop.
● When caution flag waved on lap 27, Dillon had climbed back to 26th.
● Pitted for four tires and fuel on lap 29. Lined up 32nd for lap-30 restart.
● At the conclusion of the stage, Dillon pitted for fuel while the crew added some tape to the grille.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 35-70):
● Dillon started 21st and finished 19th.
● The No. 96 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Camry held steady in 22nd after lap-38 restart.
● With 25 laps to go, Dillon was 24th.
● Green-flag pit stops started on lap 50. Dillon made his stop on lap 53 for four tires and fuel.
● There were two caution periods in the final 10 laps that saw cars scattering off the track. Dillon expertly navigated his way through the chaos and rallied his way to 19th when the checkered flag dropped.
● Dillon’s 19th-place result bettered his previous best finish on the Daytona road course – 20th, earned in the series’ prior visit to the track last August.
● Fellow Toyota driver Christopher Bell won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 to score his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory. His margin over second-place Joey Logano was 2.199 seconds.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 12 laps.
● Thirty-two of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Toyota’s Denny Hamlin leaves Daytona as the championship leader with a 12-point advantage over second-place Logano.
Ty Dillon, driver of the No. 96 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing:
“We just stayed tough. I knew the car would be there at the end when we needed to get ourselves in position for a good finish. Experience says that a lot of guys kind of take their brains out and put it on the dash there for the last few laps. You’ve got to be smart and put yourself in position for a good finish. Obviously, we want to be winning races, but our Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Camry got better and better and that’s what we’re doing with this race team. We want to progress every time we get in. We learned a lot. There are a lot of things we could do better, but I’m really proud of our effort.”
While the next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Dixie Vodka 400 on Sunday, Feb. 28 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Gaunt Brothers Racing’s next race is the Food City Dirt Race March 28 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.