Austin Dillon leads the NASCAR Nationwide Series points for the first time in his career – a somewhat surprising statement for a driver who threatens to win an almost weekly basis.
But it’s true. Austin Dillon used a 12th-place finish at Indy to move into the points lead for the first time, and becomes the third different leader in as many weeks.
Two races previous, Regan Smith held a slight five-point advantage over Sam Hornish Jr. with Dillon seven points further back. Then after a runner-up finish at Chicagoland the following weekend, Hornish leapfrogged over Smith to take a seven-point lead over Smith with Dillon eight points back.
It’s now Dillon’s turn to carry the banner as the series returns to Iowa Speedway for the U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by Enlist Weed Control System. He leads Smith and Elliott Sadler by six and 13 points, respectively. Hornish dropped to fourth in the points, one marker behind Sadler.
Dillon, who has four finishes in the top three but is still looking for his first win, returns the No. 3 Chevrolet to the points lead for the first time since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the season-opening race at Daytona in 2002. It’s been since 1999, however, that the No. 3 was atop the standings this late in the season. Earnhardt went on to win his second consecutive title later that season.
Could the same be in the cards for Austin Dillon? If Dillon is to keep his perch atop the standings for the remainder of the season, he’ll most likely need to add a victory or two to his resume. His past success at Iowa makes this weekend as good a time as any to make a mark in the wins column.
On his last trip to Iowa back in June, Dillon dominated the race by leading 207 of 250 laps, finishing second to Trevor Bayne. In five other series starts at the 0.88-mile track, Dillon has four top-15 finishes. Additionally, his last two visits to the track with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series resulted in a win and a runner-up finish.