Eventful Weekend For Dillon Oliver In Sunshine State
Topics: Dillon Oliver, Florida 100
“Thrillin Dillon Has A Wild Weekend At New Smyrna ”
MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (June 26, 2007) - - American Speed Association (ASA) late model driver lived up to his nick name “Thrillin Dillon” at New Smyrna Speedway last weekend as the promising driver had a weekend that was filled with thrills and spills.
Never having the opportunity to tackle the Central Florida track, Oliver headed into his newest venue with optimism. Sitting fifth in the championship standings, the Kentucky native was looking for a solid weekend that would keep him in the hunt for the title.
In the first and only practice of the day, Oliver in his No. 33 posted solid lap times ranking him in the top-10 when the session concluded. Consulting with crew chief Maury Vanvleet, the duo quickly went to work to try and put an exceptional setup underneath his machine that would give the rookie his first pole of the season.
In time trials, Oliver was a favorite for the top spot, but no one anticipated what would happen during his lap. Coming out of turn four, Oliver’s machine broke loose forcing the driver to steer his machine up the track to save it. Unfortunately, he hit the turn four wall with the impact forcing Oliver’s car to overturn and slide down the track before coming to rest on the front straightaway upside down.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Joey Clanton rushed to the rookie’s aid advising him to remain calm and collective and told him everything was going to be alright. After exiting the car under his own power, Oliver waived off treatment from the track medical team and instead stood beside his machine to make sure when the safety workers flipped his automobile they would cause no further damage. They performed brilliantly.
“Whoa, I never want to do that again,” said Oliver. “I went with my instinct and it was the wrong move, but I learned, so that’s a good thing. The car was hooked up. We were going to have a good lap if everything would have worked out, but it didn’t. Can’t dwell on it, I learned my lesson, that’s for sure.”
The good news for the Dillon Oliver Racing team was that the car was not hurt as severely as originally thought. Once the car returned to the garage area, the team quickly began thrashing on the car piecing and replacing the damaged suspension parts. With a guaranteed starting position, the team knew they would be in the show, so while time was of the essence the team remained focused on the job at hand.
While Oliver arrived at the on-track autograph session car less, the team would show up twenty minutes before the start of the Florida 100 with a car ready to race. With some help from the 200-MPH duct tape and the help of local teams assisting the North Carolina based operation with spare parts, Oliver would make his inaugural debut at the track located twenty minutes from the “World Center of Speed,” Daytona International Speedway.
At the start of the event, Oliver reported that the car was ill-handling. After making some adjustments from inside the car, Oliver radioed that the car was feeling more comfortable, but he was taking his time.
Despite maneuvering a beat and battered racecar, Oliver’s lap times remained strong and competitive.
While comfortably hovering inside the top-15, Oliver’s night would take a drastic turn thanks to some miscommunication.
Oliver noticed as he was driving by the start/finish line that the Black Flag was being waived. Not wanting to be any danger to his competition, he brought his No. 33 machine to the attention of his crew to only find out he was not the car the flag was appropriated for. In the midst of the confusion, Oliver whipped down pit road at a quick speed.
In the eyes of the American Speed Association officials it was a little too fast. He was penalized for six laps for his error.
Oliver returned to competition and avoided the late race carnage to collect a 16th place finish Saturday night.
“First, I would like to apologize to ASA for speeding on pit road, it was not my intention and it won’t happen again,” offered Oliver after the event. “On the flip side, I’ll take a 16th place finish after everything we dealt with this weekend. I really owe my guys a huge thanks for their never give up attitude and their desire to run good. They stuck behind me today through thick and thin and I want to let them know I appreciate it. I also want to thank everyone who offered a hand and parts to keep us in this race, I don’t forget stuff like that, it means the world to me.”
He continued, “This place is rough on rookies, I’ll say that much. We had a pretty decent car. Our lap times were good and we were maintaining our position on the track. We never were overtaken to go a lap down, so that has to show you how talented of a crew I am surrounded by. To fix a car that everyone thought was virtually undriveable following our qualifying show, we overcame the headaches and we finished the race. I am surrounded by a great bunch.”
Despite the chaos, Oliver maintained fifth in the championship standings heading into the next event on July 14 at Birmingham International Raceway in Birmingham , Alabama .
“We lost a little bit of ground today, but it could have been a lot worse,” Oliver added. “We never gave up and that proves that teamwork wins. We have a lot of work to do between now and our next race, but we’ll be ready and we’ll be back with a vengeance.”
NAME: Chris Knight, Dillon Oliver Racing
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