Takeaways from Pocono: Austin Dillon's had a terrible last two weeks

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nascar/sprint/drivers/1595/" data-ylk="slk:Austin Dillon">Austin Dillon</a> completed just 28 laps on Sunday. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon completed just 28 laps on Sunday. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Austin Dillon’s fallen from 14th to 21st in the points standings in the last five races.

Dillon finished 37th and last on Sunday at Pocono after he crashed out of the race in the first stage following a bump from Paul Menard.

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Dillon slowed down in turn three behind Jimmie Johnson and Menard didn’t slow down as quickly as he did. Dillon then went sliding into the wall off Menard’s bumper and had to exit the car because of all the damage to the rear of the car.

Dillon crashed out a week ago at Charlotte. After a second-straight crash, he’s now five spots outside the playoffs.

Will he get back into the top 16? It seems unlikely. While Dillon had been finishing better than he did in 2018 when he made the playoffs, Richard Childress Racing doesn’t have the speed that many other teams have. Dillon’s going to need the drivers ahead of him to have issues over the next 12 races. And he’s going to have to avoid more problems as well. Another race-ending crash or two and Dillon could be out of the playoff hunt for good.

[Kyle Busch wins a Pocono snoozer]

‘It’s not that it’s hard to pass, it’s impossible’

Is NASCAR going to make changes to the cars before the second race of 2019 at Pocono? It seems like a crazy question. But given how passing was so limited on Sunday, it also seems like a reasonable question.

Denny Hamlin said passing was impossible.

And Brad Keselowski agreed that track position was at an extreme premium.

The most likely change NASCAR would and could make ahead of the July 29 race at Pocono would be to the gear rules. The gear rules for Sunday’s race prevented drivers from shifting down to third gear when at top speed. A gear change that makes third gear usable could help drivers pass each other and would be relatively insignificant in the grand scheme. Given how much of a bore Sunday’s race was, it’s a worthy change.

Kyle Larson goes from a top-10 finish to 26th

Kyle Larson was headed for a top-10 finish until the final restart of the day.

Larson made an inside move on Clint Bowyer in turn one with less than 10 laps to go but wasn’t clear of Bowyer as the two drivers exited the corner. Larson slid up ahead of Bowyer and clipped Bowyer’s nose and hit the wall.

The damage Larson suffered was extensive enough to force him to pit. He ended up 26th.

Crazily enough, Larson only lost three points to Erik Jones, who finished third. Larson entered the race in 16th, two points ahead of Jones. But after winning the first two stages of Sunday’s race, Larson scored 31 points to Jones’ 34. So he’s just one point behind Jones in 17th. It could be a lot worse.

Let’s go side-by-side for NASCAR commercials

The scourge of NASCAR commercials during NASCAR races continued again on Sunday. Side-by-side commercials are supposed to be a benefit to viewers and give them a chance to watch the race in a portion of the screen while companies sponsoring the race show ads in the other.

Well, it’s not much of a benefit when those commercials being shown in side-by-side are for NASCAR itself.

Fox showed commercials for NASCAR during side-by-side breaks on multiple occasions on Sunday. And even showed three commercials for NASCAR itself in a single side-by-side commercial break.

As we’ve said before in similar columns, the best advertisement for NASCAR is an actual race. While Sunday’s race was not a great ad for NASCAR, it’s still better than a NASCAR commercial. Unless those NASCAR commercials were being played in lieu of commercials that would have otherwise been purchased by paying advertisers. If the numerous NASCAR commercials during the NASCAR race were played to fill unpaid ad space, then there’s a problem brewing.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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