Austin Dillon won the perseverance award at the Auto Club 400 on Sunday.
After winning the pole position Friday, the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet got sick Saturday night and did not feel better as the race was about to start.
His team, Richard Childress Racing, had a standby driver just in case: Cole Custer, the 21-year-old Ladera Ranch native who won Saturday’s race in NASCAR’s second-level Xfinity Series at Fontana.
Dillon, 28, started the race and got more bad news on Lap 55 when his car suffered a cut tire and brushed the outside wall, bringing out the race’s first caution flag.
But Dillon carried on and finished 10th.
“Some type of flu bit me bad,” he tweeted after the race. “The adrenaline has worn off and the pain is setting in. It was worth our first top-10 of the year.”
Kevin Harvick is still looking for win
Former Cup champion Kevin Harvick hasn’t won this year but he’s off to a solid start.
The Bakersfield native was fourth in the Auto Club 400, the third time this year that he’s finished fourth, and he’s had a top-10 finish in four of the five Cup races so far this season.
“We race well today” but “I didn’t have anything for the Penske cars or the 18 car” of race winner Kyle Busch, said Harvick, who drives the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. “We have some work to do.”
Jimmie Johnson’s struggle
Jimmie Johnson, the seven-time Cup champion, has now gone 64 races without a victory.
The El Cajon native qualified 11th for Sunday’s race and climbed into the top 10 in the early stages. But his No. 48 Chevrolet eventually faded and he finished 17th.
Johnson holds the record for most Cup wins at Auto Club Speedway with six, but the last one came in 2016.