Austin Dillon to Run at Michigan as Circle Sport Racing Takes a Week Off

By Joseph Wolkin
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Dillon will be back behind the wheel of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car this weekend. Dillon will return to a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet SS in NASCAR’s top tier division for the first time since the Daytona 500.

The eldest of the Dillon brothers has been running full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Richard Childress Racing and a part-time schedule in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Phoenix Racing. He’s attempting to gain experience in preparation for his rookie of the year season in 2014 where he’ll presumably run the full schedule for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 3 car.

If that were to happen, it would be the first time that Richard Childress Racing will field the No. 3 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s fatal crash in the 2001 Daytona 500.

Dillon will return to the No. 33 car this weekend at the Michigan International Raceway. The car is usually fielded by Joe Falk’s Circle Sport Racing driven by Landon Cassill. However, the team parked the car early for just the second time of the year last weekend at Pocono as they’re attempting to gain funding. The car has had a sponsor for nine of 13 attempts this year, which is a lot better than last year. They’ve been able to run better on the short tracks and even finished on the lead lap at Richmond in the 25th position. The week off should provide them plenty of time to prepare for Sonoma where the car will be driven by road course ace, Ron Fellows.

In order to preserve his rookie of the year eligibility, Dillon can only run 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this year. So far, he’s run four. Though, he hasn’t done too well with Phoenix Racing. Driving for his grandfather’s team at Richard Childress Racing should be a way to turn things around for the 23-year-old.

The start couldn’t come at a better time for Dillon. He has three consecutive poles in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and is doing better each week he steps inside of the race car. Last weekend at Iowa, Dillon dominated the race, leading on 207 of the 250 laps, but finished second after losing the lead late in the race to Trevor Bayne.

It won’t be the first time Dillon has run a Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan. Last year, Richard Childress Racing fielded the No. 33 car for him at the same event. He was able to run mid-pack throughout the race and finished 24th. However, Dillon was two laps down which was probably the low point of the day. Expect Dillon to run inside of the top-20 now that he has some moderate experience against the competition this year.

Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.

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