By Seth Livingstone
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Whether or not he makes the Chase, whether or not he wins Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, 2014 has been a learning experience for Austin Dillon.
"If I could hit the reset button, there are so many things I would do differently up to this point," said Dillon, who finds himself 22 points behind Greg Biffle for the final spot on the Chase Grid and two points ahead of rookie rival Kyle Larson going into Saturday's Irwin Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"You have certain restarts, certain things you've done to the car during practice you wish that you would have taken back out. You wish you wouldn't have said certain things to make changes on the car (but) you just let your crew (make them) because they have more experience than you.
"I could probably have improved (at some tracks). Now, having a notebook going back for those races, is just going to help."
Overall, Dillon says he has few regrets about his rookie season because drivers learn from their mistakes.
"At least the good ones do," he said. "I just think having that start-over button would have been nice. But that is why you have yellow stripes on the back of your bumper -- to let everybody know you are learning."
Once 2014 is in the rearview mirror, Dillon says he will do as he did after his rookie campaigns in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and NASCAR Nationwide Series. He'll sit down and re-evaluate what he did right and what he could have done better.
"I was able to come back and win championships in the other two series after our first year," he said. "I would love to be able to do that in the Cup Series. I think it's a possibility. You just have to reset and set goals higher."
Although his chances to make the Chase are dwindling, Dillon is in no way writing off this season. But like Marcos Ambrose, Paul Menard and Larson, Dillon he knows he doesn't have much chance of cracking the Chase field of 16 without a win at Bristol, Atlanta or Richmond.
He intends to go all out.
"Being a rookie, I don't have much to lose," he said.
His more likely reward would come if he were to prevail in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle with Larson, who has posted five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes this season.
Dillon has only one top-five (a fifth at Daytona) and three top 10s. His edge has come via consistency. Dillon has finished every race and leads all Sprint Cup drivers in percentage of laps completed (99.8 percent). Larson's quest has been dogged by three did-not-finishes.
"I think that's a really cool stat, having run the most number of laps of any car in the field," Dillon said. "I think that is very special for us, as a rookie. Obviously, I want to run futher up front more often. But consistency is a good thing."
DOUSED FOR A CAUSE
While Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards were in the Bristol media center discussing their solid qualifying efforts on Friday and what they might do to accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, NASCAR president Mike Helton was outside, about to get soaked.
Dressed in a suit and seated for the cameras, Helton received a bucket bath from Cup drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick, Jamie McMurray and Greg Biffle.
Helton said he originally made a $1,000 donation to ALS when Johnson and McMurray challenged him to the fundraiser, which has taken off nationally in the battle against Lou Gehrig's disease. He later elected to let the drivers pour ice water over him for donations of $1,000 each.
Inside, Gordon suggested that Edwards accept the challenge by doing a back flip into a tube of ice water. Edwards didn't totally reject the concept -- but seemed rather "cool" to the idea.
HISTORIC HONOR FOR NASCAR'S FRANCE KENNEDY
The National Women's History Museum and its Los Angeles Regional Council on Saturday honored three female philanthropists and activists who contribute to women's history while creating awareness to advance NWHM's mission of building a world-class museum in Washington, D.C.
Lesa France Kennedy, International Speedway Corporation CEO and NASCAR Board member, was joined by actress/philanthropist Sophia Bush and Callie Khouri, a producer/director and Academy Award-winning writer, at a private brunch at L.A.'s Skirball Cultural Center.