By Toby Christie (Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie)
For Ty Dillon, 2018 was a story of firsts. It was his first year with Matt Borland as his crew chief at Germain Racing. He recorded his first 13th-place-or-better finish at a 1.5-mile speedway (Texas in the spring). And Dillon also snagged his first-career top-10 finish by finishing sixth at in July’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
There is a lot for Dillon and his Germain Racing team to be thankful for. But they also still have plenty of room to improve, as inconsistency plagued the No. 13 team all year long.
The 26-year-old driver failed to finish inside the top-20 in any of the first six races of the season. So things got off to a bumpy start, and they didn’t improve a whole lot as the season progressed. By season’s end, Dillon had registered just seven top-20 finishes in 36 starts.
However, one of his best races of the season came at Martinsville during the 10-race Playoff stretch.
Dillon rolled off the grid in the 23rd position, but he would not remain mired deep in the field. By the mid-way point of the race the North Carolina native had worked his way to 11th, and it looked like a second-career top-10 finish was in the cards.
Dillon would work his way as high up as sixth before ultimately fading to finish 15th in the closing laps, but it was an eye-opening performance for the team that had struggled mightily for the majority of the 2018 season.
“We have been building on this thing and getting better and better each week and Martinsville is a place we knew that we could get more and more competitive and kind of jump ourselves,” Dillon said. “We really executed well we had a great race car the GEICO Camaro was great. I’m proud of the effort and I’m proud of the way we are building these Camaros to get better and better each week. So, hopefully we can roll this momentum into Texas and finish out the year strong.”
For an upstart team still trying to find solid footing in the series 2018 certainly wasn’t a bad effort. But they need to keep taking steps forward.
The team has a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, which should stay intact going into 2019. And another year of tinkering with the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Cup Series body should help the entire Chevrolet camp, Germain Racing included.
GEICO Insurance returns as the sponsor of the No. 13 team again this season and all signs point to not much changing for this team this season. Hopefully another year of continuity for Dillon and Borland will elevate the performance of the team.
Borland has scored 13 victories as a crew chief in 317 races atop the pit box. This includes an impressive eight win effort as Ryan Newman’s crew chief in 2003. Borland knows how to turn the wrenches. And Dillon, a former ARCA champion, knows how to turn the wheel. Perhaps they can get the ship righted and have a break-out season in 2019.