After a collecting his career-best series finish at Nashville Superspeedway, Austin Dillon and the No. 33 Rheem/Menards team headed to Indiana looking to top last weekend’s third-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Saturday night showdown at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Dillon qualified the Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) Chevrolet Impala in the 12th position and raced among the top 10 for the majority of the 200-lap event. The young driver finished 14th after being involved in a late-race incident which included teammate Elliott Sadler in the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet.
In front of a packed crowd at the 0.686-mile track, the cars roared to life. By lap 10, Dillon raced his way from 12th to 10th position. Crew chief David Hyder relayed to Dillon that the young driver was as fast as the race leader. As the field reached lap 20, Dillon moved into the ninth spot.
Debris was spotted on the race track, bringing out the first caution flag of the night on lap 48 with Dillon running in the ninth position. As the field slowed, the driver relayed that the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet was loose in the center of the turns and needed a little more grip. Hyder called Dillon to pit road for four tires and fuel and a chassis adjustment to help tighten the Chevrolet. The Rheem/Menards crew executed a quick stop, picking up two positions on pit road as the No. 33 car restarted in the seventh position on lap 54.
Back under green-flag conditions, Dillon slipped to the eighth spot, but after several laps, the young driver settled into a rhythm and moved back up to the seventh position. As the race advanced past the halfway mark, Dillon reached the fifth position. Debris brought out the yellow flag, slowing the race for the second time on lap 114. Dillon reported the No. 33 Chevrolet was a little snug in the center. Hyder and the KHI team took the opportunity to bring the Rheem/Menards machine down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. Another quick stop by the crew returned Dillon on track where he left, in the fifth position.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 121. Dillon drifted back two positions but worked his way back to the fifth spot with 50 laps to go in the event.
The yellow flag waved for a third time with 25 laps remaining in the race for a three-car accident in turns three and four. To ensure the track was safely cleared, NASCAR brought out the red flag, stopping the field on the track for more than 12 minutes. While the leaders opted to pit, the Rheem/Menards team elected to stay on track and when the field started up again, took the lap 184 restart from the first position.
Dillon led the field back to green-flag racing, but he was shuffled out of the lead into the fourth spot by the cars that had pitted for tires during the caution. The No. 33 fell back to the eighth position as the fourth caution flag of the night waved for the No. 16 car that had lost had engine, dropping oil down the frontstetch, with only 13 laps to go to the checkered flag. During the caution, Dillon came to pit road for four tires and an air-pressure adjustment. The No. 33 Chevrolet lined up in the 14th position for the restart on lap 196.
After the race returned to green, Dillon quickly moved up to the 13th position, but just as he settled in to the spot, an accident erupted in front of him on the track with two laps remaining to the end. The young driver moved down to the apron of the track to avoid contact but hit the No. 2 car of his KHI teammate Sadler which left right-front damage to Rheem/Menards machine.
The late-race caution set the field for a green-white-checker finish with Dillon lining up at the tail end of the longest line as he was too fast exiting pit road on the team’s final pit stop. As the leaders raced into turn one on the final lap, further trouble erupted as cars in the back of the field made contact. With no caution, the race was concluded. Dillon and the No. 33 team came across the finish line with a 14th-place finish.
The No. 33 Rheem/Menards team will head to Iowa Speedway on Saturday, August 6, for the second Nationwide Series race of the season at the Newton, Iowa track. David Mayhew will make his series debut with the KHI team. Tune in to ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. ET to watch the night race live and listen to MRN at 7:00 p.m. ET.