Steady Dillon adds to Chase point total

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Austin Dillon finished eighth Sunday at the Sprint Cup race to move into 12th place in the Chase standings.

Brooklyn, Mich. — Austin Dillon has been competitive, showing his ability to run up front since Richard “Slugger” Labbe took over as crew chief after the June race at Michigan International Speedway a year ago.

Dillon entered Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at MIS 13th in points with six top-10 finishes in the 14 races, including three top-five spots with a season’s best finish of third at Talladega.

Dillon, 26, finished eighth Sunday at the two-mile superspeedway to move up to 12th in the standings. Drivers with at least one win automatically get locked in to one of 16 spots for The Chase, an opportunity to battle for the championship during the final 10 races of the season. The remaining spots will be held by points, meaning Dillon would get in if the cut off was today.

Dillon, the grandson of Richard Childress who is also the car owner of his No. 3 Dow Salutes Veterans Chevrolet, had just five top-10 finishes in 51 races with Gil Martin as crew chief before the move to Labbe.

“We are a little disappointed since we thought we had enough speed to have a shot to win,” Dillon said following the race. “I don’t know what people thought of the package, but it was pretty hard to pass because you were really free

.”

NASCAR put in new rules to the aerodynamic package to further reduce downforce and sideforce to allow for cars to get better runs to give drivers more opportunities at passing.

Gibbs team struggles

Joe Gibbs’ four-car team of Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin had a tough day.

Toyota’s top team had combined to win seven of the 14 races heading into the weekend with Busch, the defending series champion, owning a series-high three and Edwards two.

Edwards had a solid sixth-place finish, but Busch suffered a blown engine, resulting in a last-place finish (40th). Hamlin had a blown tire while crossing the start/finish line with 12 laps remaining, crashing into the pit wall, finishing 33rd. Kenseth finished 14th.

“It’s tough out there today and the restarts were really tough,” Edwards said.

Roush drivers stumble

Livonia based businessman Jack Roush continued to have problems with his three-car Ford team.

Roush,entered Sunday with more wins (13) on the track than any other owner. However, his last win on the superspeedway came in the June race three years ago by Greg Biffle.

Roush drivers haven’t earned a win since 2014 and missed the Chase last year. Biffle is still looking for his first top-10 finish this season after finishing 19th. He did show some aggressive driving, going four wide at one point, nearly into the grass late in the race.

Trevor Bayne, whose No. 6 AdvoCare Ford got loose and collided with six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, placed 15th, one spot ahead of Johnson.

Roush’s third driver, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 29th.

Lions take in race

Several members of the Lions attended the race.

Defensive end Ziggy Ansah and rookie defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson were among the players touring the garage area, and they were joined by new general manager Bob Quinn.

They stopped to talk with Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski at his transporter in the morning.