Austin Dillon likes where he will be this weekend.
Apply that to his place in the points standings and the venue the Richard Childress Racing driver will compete.
Dillon returns to Newton as the NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader for the U.S. Cellular 250 on Saturday at Iowa Speedway, beginning at 7 p.m. (Iowa time). Dillon holds a six-point lead over Regan Smith with Elliott Sadler and Sam Hornish Jr. just 13 and 14 points back, respectively.
Dillon has six top-five finishes and 12 in the top 10. He was 12th at the Indiana 250 last week, moving him into the lead. The team has earned each of their finish, relying on what they do best.
“We’ve been pretty fast all year long,” Dillon said. “We’ve been doing what we know. We’re to be consistent. Consistency is what wins races.”
A win has eluded him so far this season. He recorded his best finish of 2013 at Iowa Speedway in June, placing second. He has had plenty of success here, holding the lead in the last two Nationwide races here. He led 53 laps in this event last year, coming in 15th. He claimed his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Iowa Speedway in 2010.
Dillon has captured six poles this season, including four straight at one point. The third in that stretch was at the o.875-mile oval.
“I love Newton,” Dillon said. “We kind of gave away a win there. I’m really excited about coming back.”
Few drivers have been as dominant without visiting victory like Dillon in his last appearance in Iowa. He led 207 laps of the Dupont Pioneer 250 in June, but was passed with a little more than 10 laps remaining by winner Trevor Bayne. A rain delay that changed race conditions and washed the old rubber from the track hurt Dillon’s chances to close. He said the happenings created a “perfect storm” he didn’t overcome.
“It was pretty disappointing,” said Dillon, noting he could have handled his tires better during the race. “Hopefully, we learn a lesson.”
According to an RCR release citing NASCAR statistics, Dillon leads the series with an average start just more than fourth. He third in most laps led with 365 and driver rating of 100.4. He also ranks fourth in fastest laps and average running position.
Before taking the points lead, Dillon placed in the top six in four straight events, including consecutive third-place finishes in STP 300 and CNBC Prime the Profit 200. Dillon was victorious in the latest NCWTS race, winning the Mudsummer Classic dirt race held at Eldora (Ohio) Speedway.
“The No. 3 car has gotten hot here the last month and a half,” Sadler said of Dillon. “Shown a lot of speed and a lot of good finishes.”
Sadler also mentioned Hornish has been fast this season and Brian Vickers has come on strong recently.
The championship chase is still up for grabs. A number of drivers have a legitimate shot at a title, and Iowa Speedway can propel Saturday’s winner. The top eight drivers are within 46 points of the lead. Vickers is fifth and only 28 points behind Dillon. No one will let up off the accelerator this week.
“The competition in the Nationwide Series is great,” said Dillon, the 2011 NCWTS champion. “It’s one of the toughest years I’ve been a part of.”