With another driver change in the second Richard Childress Racing car between the 2019 and 2020 seasons, it is notable that Ty Dillon remains with Germain Racing for another year. In last year’s preview we suggested that the overall performance of both RCR cars should be better than the No. 13. That prediction fell one position short of accurate.
While Austin Dillon and the No. 3 team finished higher in the points at 21st, his younger brother actually outperformed Daniel Hemric who finished 25th in the standings. Ty finished 24th and improved this team along the way. It would seem that Dillon knew something we did not.
Like many drivers at this level, Dillon had some impressive runs during the year. As expected, his three best efforts came on aero-restricted superspeedways with a fourth in the Coke Zero 400, a sixth in the Daytona 500, and a 10th in the fall Talladega race. Those were his only top-10s, but they were not his only strong runs.
Dillon finished respectably in the points because of consistency. Along with Joey Logano, he was one of two drivers who were running at the end of every race. He finished on the lead lap 13 times and most of those ended in top-15s. While he lacked the horsepower to challenge for the lead every week, he finished in the top 20 in almost half of his starts (16) and was 25th or better 72% of the time.
Dillon added value with place-differential points on a majority of weekends. He finished better than he started 25 times last year and lost positions only nine times. All of his top-15 finishes came after he started outside of the top 20. Moreover, he was predictable in the second half of the year in regard to his race day improvements. From the August running of the Consumers Energy 400, Dillon finished better than he started in all but one race – and in that singular event, he finished 24th after starting 24th at Homestead.
Dillon should continue to improve in 2020, but it might not show up in a better points’ result since this year’s crop of rookie contenders is going to be stronger than what we saw in 2019. All three of the freshmen have the potential to finish in the top 20 in points. In fact, it’s not inconceivable that they will qualify for the playoffs.
To challenge the mid-pack drivers, Dillon is going to have to get off to a better start this year than last. After finishing sixth in the 500, he fell to 25th or worse in three of the next four races. If he can challenge for a top-20 in the first five races, he has the potential to be the best among the RCR-affiliated teams.
Three Best Tracks
Talladega (12.4 in 7 attempts)
Indy (17.7 in 3)
Darlington (18.0 in 3)
Three Worst Tracks
Chicagoland (29.5 in 4)
Sonoma (29.3 in 3)
Kentucky (28.3 in 4)
Victories: None (Best finish = fourth, Daytona 2)
Top-fives: 1 (.028)
Top-10s: 3 (.083)
Top-15s: 9 (.250)
2019 Finishes at or above rank = 28 (77.8%)