by Ryan Isley
Writer’s Note: This is Part 3 in a 13-Part series. Each Friday from November 23rd to February 15th, Ryan will make a prediction for the 2013 NASCAR season spanning over all three main touring series – Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. On February 8th and 15th, Ryan will predict the 12 drivers who will make the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase and the Sprint Cup champion. You can check out all of the predictions here.
There are certainties and mysteries surrounding the 2013 season when it comes to 22-year-old Austin Dillon.
What we know for sure is that Austin Dillon – the grandson of Richard Childress – will run the No.33 Cheerios car for Richard Childress Racing in the 2013 Daytona 500, making his debut in NASCAR’s most prestigious race. As for anything else concerning Dillon and the Sprint Cup Series in 2013, there are rumors but no certainties. For that reason, this prediction could be considered a double prediction.
Part 1: Dillon will race between five and seven races in the Sprint Cup Series.
Part 2: Dillon will have multiple top-10 finishes in those races.
The plan for RCR has always been thought to be for Dillon to join the Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2014 and that plan seems to be right on track, especially with the news that Kevin Harvick will be leaving RCR after 2013 to join Stewart-Haas Racing.
With that in mind, it would only make sense for RCR to field a car for Dillon on five to seven occasions in 2013 – almost like the 10-race schedule Danica Patrick ran in 2012 – so that Dillon can get comfortable in the car we will be driving come 2014. And one thing we know is that Dillon won’t just get a car off the RCR scrap heap.
While some drivers – Denny Hamlin – seem to think that the only reason Dillon gets his chance is because of his name, thinking that way would be inaccurate. Dillon may have gotten his first chance because of his relationship with Richard Childress but he took advantage of that opportunity. One thing we have learned about Dillon over the past few years is that he can race successfully in whatever series he happens to be in at the time.
When Dillon finished the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series in third place, he had two wins, 16 top-5s and 27 top-10s in 33 races. His 16 top-5s were second in the series only to Ricky Stenhouse, Jr (who won the championship) and his 27 top-10s were a series-best. When he dipped his toes in the Nationwide Series waters in 2011, Dillon finished in the top-10 in three of his four races. So over the last two seasons, Dillon has finished in the top-10 in 81% of his Nationwide Series races (30-of-37).
Before joining the Nationwide Series, Dillon raced in the Camping World Truck Series for two seasons, winning the championship in 2011. In those two seasons, Dillon racked up four wins, 16 top-5s and 32 top-10s in 50 races, including a top-10 finish in eight of the last nine races in 2011.
In the last three seasons between the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series, Dillon has finished in the top-10 in 62 of 87 races, a clip of 71.3%.
After looking at the way Dillon has driven over the past three years, it would stand to reason that he has a chance to finish at least two races in the top-10 should RCR go through a schedule that puts him in a Sprint Series car for at least a handful of races in 2013.
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