DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Rookie Austin Dillon came away from Kentucky Speedway last week with his first NASCAR Nationwide victory and what he thought was the series’ points lead.
Now, as Dillon prepares for Friday night’s Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway, he still has possession of that triumph – the first of his Nationwide career. But his lead in the standings is gone after he was penalized six points for his Chevy being too low.
The penalty – levied for what Dillon said was a loose jack bolt that made the car too low -- dropped him into second place by four points behind Richard Childress Racing-teammate Elliott Sadler.
“We thought we had the problems fixed and we just made a mistake and didn’t put the new-style fix on the back of the car,” Dillon said. “Mine had the old clamp and it came loose at the track.
“It was a bummer. You go from such a high, but it’s still a high.”
MANDATORY COMPETITION CAUTIONS? Drivers and one very influential NASCAR official had mixed reactions to Bruton Smith’s suggestion for more competition cautions to improve racing in the Sprint Cup series.
“I think … our product … is exciting," NASCAR President Mike Helton told reporters Thursday. “Sports is a true reality show as it unfolds. You have to be careful when you think about artificially creating the outcome of that.
“We go through cycles being accused of creating cautions. It’s kind of interesting to be accused of not having enough cautions. Time will swing back (in the other direction).”
Several races this season have been run under long green-flag periods. Smith, chairman of Charlotte Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., made his suggestion to throw some mandatory cautions to tighten fields last week at Kentucky.
Greg Biffle doesn’t think it’s a bad idea.
“I wouldn’t be against it if we see the races continue to run green the whole way with one or two cautions,” Biffle said. “Over time, (we) could lose the fans’ interest … and that's not what we want."
Said points-leader Matt Kenseth: “I think we have a good mix of long green-flag runs and some short runs. Long greens have some endings that are pretty exciting. It just depends on what you’re looking for.”
Kevin Harvick also doesn’t think much of Smith’s idea.
“Same guy who ruined Bristol,” Harvick said of Smith, who is repaving Bristol after fans complained about the racing at that SMI track.
HAMLIN SITS OUT PRACTICE: Denny Hamlin didn’t practice Thursday for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona because of a stiff back. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch practiced the No. 11 Toyota. Hamlin also had problems with his back in May at Charlotte. -- David Scott