The hauler has left Welcome, inside belts and tools shake to the rhythm hummed out by 18 wheels and a diesel. Inside the trailer the Dow Intellifresh number 3 Chevrolet sits silently, harnessed tightly, suspension compressed by chains shackling the several hundred horsepower securely to the trailer. Inside the car is a bible verse, freshly written by Whitney Ward for Austin.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
The evil one this weekend is the dreaded, “Big One.” For this is Talladega. The 2.66 mile monster has its own reputation to uphold. If names are made in the Xfinity series, Legends such as Childress & Earnhardt. Legends who had reserved space in Victory Lane. 15 years have nearly passed since the black number 3 last resided in Victory Lane. If there was a place to pick up where the greatest driver left off, Talladega, Alabama would be a most appropriate place.
Austin Dillon has a Cup series average of 21, an Xfinity series finish of 10, and a Truck series average of 8. This all adds up to a lifetime career average of 13, less the momentum modifier of 6 positions above Cup series average for the year, would give us a projection of 7th.
Is this really what can be expected? Running the same chassis he finished 9th with in Daytona, 7th is not a stretch given that the masters of motors at ECR went to work to find an extra few horsepower. With Frank Mathalia tuning the engine you can bet they will have every last available RPM putting power to the track.
RCR has a homecoming of sorts every time it enters Talladega. The start of Richard’s top level career started at this very track during a driver strike. This track has been very important to the history and legacy of the company in it’s 40 years. If there is a track besides Daytona that is important to the entire team, this is it.
While the fans this weekend will still be yelling, “Earnhardt!” and “Junior!” I can make you a bet, every one of them want to see the 3 be number 1 at the end of the day. Austin continues to improve everywhere and this should be no exception. The more you race plate tracks, the better you get, the more you learn. I don’t look for the 3 to just have a good day, but a great day! The team has made several deposits in the luck bank lately with some bad luck, so it’s time to take out some of the good.
The hopes and prayers and dreams of a nation rest on the lid of the 3 car. #AD3nation will be watching and waiting and hoping. We are all in this together, watching and waiting… For our chance… To celebrate.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.
Thats what it will take this weekend to see Victory Lane.