ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- News of Richard Childress Racing 's crew chief switcheroo for its Nos. 3 and 33 Chevrolet teams in the NASCAR XFINITY Series might've seemed like a rash measure back in June. With Ty Dillon sitting second in the driver standings, the swap resembled an overhaul more than a tweak. Eight races later, the early returns are promising for both RCR outfits, with momentum aligning for Dillon's championship push heading into Saturday's Road America 180 Fired up by Johnsonville (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Dillon remains second in the standings with a 19-point deficit heading into the 23rd of 33 races this season, but he also has a streak of four straight top-five finishes built up for the final road course event of 2015. The Richard Childress-owned team announced its move June 24, moving Nick Harrison over to call the shots for Dillon's No. 3 operation. Danny Stockman shifted over to RCR's No. 33, a full-time team but with three part-time drivers -- Austin Dillon , Brandon Jones and Paul Menard -- sharing the seat. The younger Dillon said the change has gone smoothly so far, but that the more encouraging byproduct has been the team's ability to compete for top-five finishes rather than settle for top-10s. "It's going really good. We're all figuring it out and we've made sure we've had our communication down the last couple weeks," Ty Dillon said. "Every week, we've gotten stronger and stronger and had really good race cars. It makes it easier to finish top-five when you have such good race cars. Nick's been calling good races and we just have a lot of momentum right now, heading in the right direction. We keep finishing in the top five like we are, we're going to get some wins and really put the heat on them." The move paid some immediate dividends for Austin Dillon , who prevailed at Daytona International Speedway in the team's first event since the personnel change. The Dillon -Stockman pairing reunited the driver-crew chief combination that netted the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in 2011, then the XFINITY crown two years later. Menard will participate in his fourth race under Stockman's watch this weekend, making his first XFINITY start in his home state of Wisconsin since 2010. The Sprint Cup Series regular said he understood the reasons for altering the team dynamic. "It was more for Ty , honestly," Menard said. "They called me to see if I was OK with making the switch and I said whatever is better for the company is fine with me. I know we'll run good with both those guys." Ty Dillon has methodically made up ground -- or at least held serve -- in the weeks following the change. After crashing out at Daytona and slipping to 43 points in arrears, he's chopped the deficit in half and then some, helping him apply pressure to Roush Fenway Racing 's Chris Buescher , the points leader since May. It's resulted in additional spring in the step for Dillon , noticeably so according to Harrison. "We've had a string of top-fives here, so we've got some kind of mojo rolling and we've been having fun doing it," Harrison said. "The pressure and intensity level's getting higher as we creep down toward the end of the year. Having some momentum is definitely showing to be a strength, and you can tell it's helping everybody's spirit going into the closing part of the year. "We've had two top-fives at Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen, so coming here, I think confidence is up for not only us but especially Ty . I feel like that's real important. You can just tell his attitude and charisma is where it needs to be right now and I feel like that's going to help tremendously." The poise may come in handy this weekend on the blazing fast 4.048-mile circuit, where off-course pitfalls and the prospect of fender-bending conflicts await. Dillon has managed to steer clear of the former if not quite the latter in this month's other two road-course events, gathering top-five finishes at both. The potential for trouble -- mixed in with the uncertainty of possible racing in the rain -- hasn't done much to deter Dillon's outlook as the final third of the season begins. "We're going for it. This is definitely an opportunity," Dillon said. "We're not sitting back and trying to let things happen for us. We're going for it. You never know what can happen with rain and the way a road course races anyway, so we've got to be on the attack and try to win this race."
RELATED: Updated standings Chris Buescher gambled at Bristol and almost came up big. The key word in the previous sentence: 'Almost.' The 22-year-old Roush Fenway Racing driver took the lead at the .533-mile track after electing not to pit on Lap 192 of 300. Buescher paced the field for the next 106 laps, but a fuel pick-up issue on the penultimate go-around of the race ended any hopes of triumph. Buescher was relegated to 11th, while Ty Dillon finished third, cutting Buescher's NASCAR XFINITY Series points lead to 19. If Buescher didn't go for the win, he wouldn't have lost as many points to Dillon . "We had the speed, but it wasn't meant to be," Buescher said. "I'm glad we took the chance. I wouldn't change it if we could do it over again, but unfortunately it knocked us right out of a top-10 and out of a win." RELATED: Buescher: 'I'm glad we took the chance' Buescher and Dillon will continue to battle for the points lead in Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (3 p.m. on NBCSN) -- the third and final XFINITY Series road course race of the season. The two drivers are the only competitors who finished in the top five of the previous two road course races. A natural on road courses, Buescher won at Mid-Ohio last year in addition to his two top fives while turning left and right this year. He placed 18th in his lone start at Road America last season. " Road America is a very difficult and unique road course," Buescher said. "I love road racing and look forward to the challenge." Dillon finished 19th in his first-ever series start at Road America last year. He enters Saturday's race riding a streak of four top-five finishes. "Our team is looking at the big picture and sometimes we have to take a step back and realize that this is a long season; to take it little by little," Dillon said. "This past weekend in Bristol was a perfect example -- we struggled the first part of practice but (Crew Chief) Nick (Harrison), (Race Engineer) Danny (Efland) and the team just took a step back and reevaluated. We have a championship to win here and it won't be easy. "We have 11 races to go and we're not going to let up."
Ty Dillon gets loose and makes contact with Ben Kennedy before slamming into the wall.
WATCH: Different view of scrap " Contact that started scuffle WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- There was no mistaking Regan Smith 's purposeful stride down pit road or the look in his eyes following Saturday's Zippo 200 at the Glen XFINITY Series race. Sure that he had been manhandled on the famous road course, Smith, 31, stopped at competitor Ty Dillon 's car, leaned in and grabbed Dillon , 23, by the front of his uniform, confronting him about an incident between the two in Turn 1 on a Lap 40 restart. The two championship contenders pushed and shoved and shouted angrily at each other, promising retaliation down the road before NASCAR officials and various team members stepped in to separate them. Both Dillon's father, Mike, and his grandfather and team owner, Richard Childress, came to the scene. Smith eventually was pulled away and made his way back to the garage area still fuming. Because of their championship points position, Smith's JR Motorsports hauler was parked only two spots away from Dillon's Richard Childress Racing hauler. Dillon's older brother, Sprint Cup Series driver Austin, stood outside while his brother went into change out of his race uniform. "I got dumped in Turn 1, it's pretty simple and I'm not the only one he dumped today," Smith said of Ty Dillon . "I may have lost the championship today, but he sure as hell did, too," Smith told reporters walking away from pit road after the race. "There's zero chance the 3 car ( Dillon ) wins the championship. And I'm going to make sure of it." Both Smith, a former Sprint Cup Series race winner, and Dillon , in his second year in the XFINITY Series, had other run-ins during the race -- with their teammates. Smith was hit by fellow JRM driver Chase Elliott early in the race. And Dillon spun out RCR teammate Paul Menard . "I wanna say, first, I'm sorry to my RCR teammates and the 7 guys (Smith's team) for my mistakes, I'm truly embarrassed, I deserve anything said," Dillon said on Twitter after the race. "I will not take anyone pushing me around after a race; that takes it to another level. All that said, another top 5 -- gotta keep up the finishes." See Ty's tweets: Dillon tweets after brawl with Smith The damage from Smith's incidents relegated him to a 20th place finish, while Dillon finished fifth. Dillon explained the accident with Smith and assumed the blame. "I got a good run, cut to the inside; it's the first time I've done that here at this race track," Dillon said. "I've seen people ... do it. I just didn't complete it. It's as simple as that. I made a big mistake, got to wheel-hopping and there's no saving it. I did it two times in a row; I'm very disappointed in myself for doing that. "Not only did I tear up everyone else's car, but I tore up mine as well. Very apologetic about that, but not about after the race." Told that Dillon had been remorseful about hitting Smith, the veteran responded, "Of course he was, he came out of all of them [accidents] unscathed." MORE: NXS drivers points standings The eventful day was costly in the standings for Smith. Dillon is now tied with Elliott in second place, 24 points behind leader Chris Buescher . Smith remains in fourth place but now trails Buescher by 57 points after being only 39 behind before the race. Smith trailed third-place Dillon by 18 points entering the weekend and is now 33 points behind his rival headed to next week's road course event at Mid-Ohio -- the second of three road course races in August for the XFINITY Series.
Richard Childress Racing driver at Virginia Tech on Tuesday MORE: All Access of skirmish Three days after a confrontation with Regan Smith , Ty Dillon can't get away from the incident -- even when he physically moves away from the incident. At Virginia Tech on a Bristol Motor Speedway media tour Tuesday, Dillon was given a No. 7 T-Shirt. No, not for famous alum Michael Vick ... PHOTO: @VT_Football Coach Beamer presents @tydillon with a funny gift. Think it's from @MikeVick , not @ReganSmith . pic.twitter.com/SoZWsqeaTH — BristolMotorSpeedway (@BMSupdates) August 11, 2015 Looks like head coach Frank Beamer, a noted NASCAR fan, is also quite the jokester. His Virginia Tech Hokies will play the University of Tennessee at Bristol on Sept. 10, 2016. Just in case you forgot, here's Saturday's incident between the two drivers.
RELATED: Practice 2 results Justin Marks sped to the top of the leaderboard late in Friday's final NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, piloting his No. 42 Chevrolet around the road course at 95.574 mph. That was just quick enough to unseat Ty Dillon from the top spot. Dillon , who led Friday's opening practice and was looking for a sweep, had a best speed of 95.538 mph, which looked like it would hold up. That ended up being good for second place. Marks hasn't raced an XFINITY Series car since the season-opening race at Daytona, in which he finished 34th in the No. 29 Toyota. Alex Tagliani (95.205 mph) was third in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, followed by Chris Buescher (95.152 mph) and Elliott Sadler (94.965 mph). Chase Elliott , who finished eighth in the final session, spent time in the garage so his team could swap his transmission after the driver reported a small vibration on his second run, according to JR Motorsports. Next on the docket for the XFINITY Series is qualifying, which takes place Saturday at 11:15 a.m. ET. The Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 follows at 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). Opening practice RELATED: Practice 1 results A late mock qualifying run vaulted Ty Dillon to the top of the leaderboard in Friday's opening NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, Dillon topped Brian Scott 's best speed with approximately 90 seconds remaining in the opening 55-minute session with a pace of 95.660 mph. Scott, his Richard Childress Racing teammate, settled for second in the session at 94.937 mph. In a practice session that saw its leaderboard get topsy-turvy as teams made late runs in qualifying trim, Boris Said piloted the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to third place (94.825 mph). Regan Smith was fourth at 94.755 mph and defending race winner and series points leader Chris Buescher taking fifth (94.736 mph). Buescher enters Saturday's Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) 24 points ahead of both Chase Elliott and Dillon . Elliott finished seventh in the first practice. Dillon , of course, was involved in a pit-road tussle with Smith following last week's race at Watkins Glen. They avoided each other in Friday's opening period of on-track activity. RELATED: Smith, Dillon get physical post-Watkins Glen Seven NASCAR XFINITY Series teams lost 15 minutes of on-track time as a result of recent minor infractions. The following XFINITY Series teams served 15-minute practice time deduction penalties during the opening practice: Richard Childress Racing No. 2 (driver Brian Scott ), Team Penske No. 22 ( Alex Tagliani ), JGL Racing No. 26 ( Tomy Drissi ), Richard Childress Racing No. 33 ( Brandon Jones ), Jimmy Means Racing No. 52 ( Joey Gase ), Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 ( Boris Said ) and JR Motorsports No. 88 ( Ben Rhodes ). The seven teams were penalized for issues arising at Watkins Glen this past weekend (late exiting garage).
Ty Dillon and Regan Smith get into an argument post race after the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.
Ty Dillon tries to go three wide during a restart on Lap 40 and sends Regan Smith around at Watkins Glen International.
Dillon , Suarez both looking for first Iowa win RELATED: Practice 2 results After running fourth in Friday's first practice, Ty Dillon topped the leaderboard in the second practice with an impressive fastest lap of 133.012 mph in 23.682 seconds. The No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet completed a total of 67 laps for the session. NASCAR XFINITY Series veteran Brendan Gaughan was second on the leaderboard for Friday's final practice session with his No. 62 Chevrolet coming in hot with a fastest lap of 132.704 mph in 23.737 seconds. T.J. Bell rounded out the top three with a lap of 131.871 mph (23.887 seconds). This weekend will mark the first time Bell has lined up for a NASCAR XFINITY Series race since 2012's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Next on the leaderboard was Drew Herring in his No. 6 Ford. Herring had a fastest lap of 131.519 mph (23.951). This will be his first NASCAR XFINITY appearance since 2013's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And completing the top five for this session was Brian Scott in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with a lap of 131.403 mph. Daniel Suarez , who topped the first practice, finished ninth in the Friday night's practice (131.026 mph). The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver will be on the lookout for his fourth consecutive top-five finish this weekend at Iowa Speedway. Kenny Wallace , who will be competing in his last race in the series this weekend at Iowa, finished 15th. Wallace is looking for his 10th career win at Saturday's U.S. Cellular Presented by New Holland (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SiriusXM). NXS action continues Saturday with the Coors Light Pole Qualifying at 4:45 p.m. ET. RELATED: Practice 1 results Daniel Suarez topped the leaderboard in the NASCAR XFINITY Series opening practice on Friday at Iowa Speedway. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota posted a fastest lap of 133.367 mph. Next was fellow rookie Brandon Jones in his No. 33 Chevrolet with a fastest lap of 131.965 mph. Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland marks Jones' second start in the XFINITY Series. His first race was at Iowa’s May race, the 3M 250 , where he finished eighth. Rounding out the first session's top three was Ben Rhodes . Rhodes had a fastest lap of 131.744 mph. Ty Dillon (131.546 mph) and Darrell Wallace Jr . (131.486 mph) came in fourth and fifth, respectively. XFINITY Series points leader, Chris Buescher finished practice in the seventh spot, posting a fastest lap of 130.332 mph. Johanna Long , finished 30th in the first session. This is Long's first 2015 appearance as she hasn't raced since 2013's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On-track action continues at 7 p.m. ET with the NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice on NBCSN. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: Practice 2 results The NASCAR XFINITY drivers were battling some weather conditions during the second practice session on Friday afternoon with light rain. Despite the rain, Paul Menard was the fastest during the second practice at Road America . Menard's No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet clocked in at 108.202 mph. Second on the leaderboard was the No. 54 Toyota of Boris Said , soaring around the 4.048-mile road course at 108.044 mph. Chase Elliott 's No. 9 Chevrolet had some speed in the second session with a quickest lap of 107.672 mph, followed by the No. 22 Ford of Ryan Blaney (107.656 mph), for fourth on the leaderboard. Rounding out the top five was the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Ty Dillon (107.636 mph). NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville is set for Saturday afternoon at 12:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN/ Live Extra ). The Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville will be held on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Live Extra. , MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). RELATED: Practice 1 results Ben Rhodes topped the leaderboard for Friday afternoon's first NASCAR XFINITY Series practice session at Road America for the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville. Rhodes' No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet posted a fastest lap of 108.500 mph. The No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Chase Elliott was next on the leaderboard, clocking in a fastest lap of 108.133 mph. Last week's winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Ryan Blaney , rounded out the top three with a fast lap of 108.039 mph in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. The No. 42 Chevrolet of Justin Marks (107.948 mph) and the No. 2 Chevrolet of Brian Scott (107.947 mph) came in fourth and fifth, respectively. Points leader Chris Buescher just missed the top five as he had a fastest lap of 107.879 mph and was sixth on the leaderboard. The race at Road America is the final road course race of the 2015 season for the XFINITY Series.