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NASCAR Media Tour Notebook: Austin Dillon points to Chase berth

The key to a better sophomore season for Austin Dillon?

Joining the “chaos” in the Sprint Cup Series.

“We have to start getting crazier. We have to make things happen,” Dillon said Thursday, the final day of the Charlotte Motor Speedway NASCAR Media Tour.

“We need to be in the Chase. We need to be a part of the chaos at the end of the year.”

Dillon drew a lot of attention when he started last season by winning the pole for the Daytona 500 in the iconic No. 3 Chevrolet, a number made famous by the late Dale Earnhardt.

But he ended the year with one top-five and four top-10 finishes and lost the rookie of the year battle to Kyle Larson.

“I know it takes more than what I gave it last year. The good thing is we had a decent year last year,” Dillon said. “When you know what those things are, you should be able to take those and make them better.”

There was no ‘but’: Over the past several seasons, Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick has had several conversations with Jeff Gordon discussing his possible retirement but was able to convince the four-time champion to continue.

So what changed this past summer when Gordon finally said the 2015 season would be his last?

“I would say, ‘Are you sure?’ and he would say something and then ‘but’ and I said you can’t end a sentence with ‘but’ – you got to tell me you really want to do it,” Hendrick said. “This year he told me, ‘I know it’s time.’

“In the other years, I didn’t think it was time and I felt this year he was Jeff Gordon all over again, every race. If he’s at the top of his game and leading the points (and) he says it’s time, I knew there no sense in pushing him to do it when he really doesn’t want to.

“It would have been a disaster.”

Wellness Challenge, Round 2: The Jimmie Johnson Foundation, started by six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and his wife, Chandra, announced it will hold a “Wellness Challenge” in the Charlotte area for a second consecutive year.

The challenge will consist of three events, which encourage individuals and corporations to prioritize health, wellness and team-building.

The events are: Jimmie Johnson Foundation 5K on April 26 in Huntersville; JJF Cane Creek Sprint Triathlon on Aug. 11 in Waxhaw; and the JJF Lake Davidson Sprint Triathlon on Sept. 13 in Davidson.

For more information, visit jimmiejohnsonfoundation.org.

Burton without a ride: A sponsorship deal fell through this week, leaving Truck series regular Jeb Burton without a ride just weeks away from the start of the 2015 season.

Burton, who finished fifth and eighth in his first two full seasons in the series, was hoping to return to ThorSport Racing.

“Due to lack of sponsorship, I do not have a truck program for this season. I will continue to do everything in my power to fulfill my dream!” Burton posted in a message to his Twitter account.

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