Solid UNOH 225 Effort Can Advance Dillon's Trek Toward History
Ty Dillon will continue his drive toward history tonight when the Richard Childress Racing rookie takes his No. 3 Bass Pro Shops machine onto the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) UNOH 225.
Dillon is making the most of his first full NCWTS season. The 20-year-old from Welcome, N.C., enters tonight's 225-mile tilt in third place in the series standings and just 12 points behind championship leader Justin Lofton.
Dillon's seven straight top-10 finishes to start the season set a new series rookie record and has him atop the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award race, 35 points ahead of Cale Gale.
"We just have an awesome team," Dillon said following Friday's final practice. "When you have guys who are working hard to build great race cars and doing everything right, you're going to get those top 10s, the consistency you need to win championships."
Dillon is not only on track to take home top series rookie honors this season, he's also trying to become the first true rookie to win a season championship in any of NASCAR's top three racing series. Kurt Busch finished second in the NCWTS standings as a rookie in 2000, Travis Kvapil finished fourth in the 2001 standings, and Dillon's brother, Austin, was fifth in 2010.
"It's definitely our number one thought this year — we want to win the championship," Dillon said. "I think we have the team to do it and the trucks to do it. Everything has gone well so far; we're just going to keep digging and see what we've got."
For Dillon, success in 2012 is a continuation of 2011, when he claimed the ARCA Racing Series title. Racing for his grandfather, powerhouse owner Richard Childress, he said, provides benefits and challenges.
"There's always pressure. My grandfather is not going to give us a free ride. We've got to go out there and perform, just like any other driver will. It's great to have the equipment that RCR brings, and that's the thing that you feel the most pressure from. You're already in a great organization that has everything you need to win a championship — now we have to go make it happen," Dillon said.
When the UNOH 225 green flag falls at 8 p.m., he'll look to continue his trek toward history while attempting to keep history from repeating itself. Dillon made his NCWTS debut at Kentucky Speedway last October, and settled for an 18th-place finish when fuel system problems surfaced late in the race.
Getting his first NCWTS victory tonight will be an uphill drive for Dillon. He will start from the back of the 36-truck field as result of an engine change announced at the end of today's practice.
"I'm not nervous. We've got a great truck and it's a long race," Dillon said. "It's happened before. We'll just keep chugging along. I'm going to drive my butt off, and tonight could be the night."
A Dillon win from the back tonight would further his personal pursuit of history, but would not make Kentucky Speedway history. Kyle Busch won the 2011 UNOH 225 after starting from the rear of the field.
Story by Jeff Hibbs