Austin Dillon plans to ‘create our own destiny’ at Talladega

Austin Dillon’s first round performance in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs turned heads but now he needs to turn his fortunes around.

Dillon, an afterthought by many entering the playoffs, blazed through the first-round races of Darlington, Richmond and Bristol with a pair of top-five finishes and a 12th, easily advancing to the Round of 12.

He and his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team were hoping for a strong start in the second-round last weekend at Las Vegas, but it was not meant to be.

Instead, Dillon experienced overheating issues and a loss of power steering in his No. 3 Chevrolet and was relegated to a 32nd-place finish, which leaves him last in points among the 12 remaining playoff drivers.

Salvaging playoffs

Still, Dillon is approaching Sunday’s race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway – which can be one of the most unpredictable – with an air of confidence.

“Vegas, we had a race going that we felt like we needed to have. Obviously, we had a failure that kind of crushed our points dream going into Talladega and how we would approach it,” Dillon, 30, said. “But the positive light in that is it’s a lot easier going to Talladega with one thing in mind and not worrying about points.

“I’m not really worried about points – I think we need to go win the race to transfer to the next round and try to create our own destiny that way. For me, it’s throwing caution to the wind.”

Dillon said his goal will be to be aggressive from the start, hoping to show his fellow competitors he is someone they can work with to get to the front and make something happen.

“Obviously, you’ve got to get to the end of those things to win, but a lot of these guys that have been successful at speedway racing have also led a bunch of laps and put themselves in situations to do that,” he said.

“For me, from lap one, I’m racing and doing what I can to be aggressive and keep track position to show everybody around us that we’re there, we have a fast car to work with us, and just kind of prove a point from the beginning of the race on that we’re going to be a contender at Talladega.”

All or nothing

Dillon certainly won’t be the only driver in Sunday’s race with an all-or-nothing approach – there’s a large group of drivers who didn’t make the playoffs that have little to lose.

But particularly late this season, Dillon has shown to have a car capable of winning and his relatively strong record on superspeedways should give him the opportunity to put himself in a position to factor in how the win plays out.

“It’s a little different approach than what we probably would have approached it with a little bit of a points gap – trying to play out and see how things go in each stage and go from there,” he said.

“But the way we’re sitting now, I think we need to win both stages and try to win the race.”

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