Ty Dillon made his first visit to Texas Motor Speedway’s victory lane in a Camping World Truck Series win in 2013, and he has special motivation to return.
“I didn’t get to shoot the six-shooters; they forgot to bring them around,” he said with a laugh about the track’s tradition of letting its race winners fire blanks from a pair of Old West-style revolvers. “Texas has one of the coolest victory lanes. I want to get in there to have a party again.”
There has been much to celebrate lately for the Richard Childress Racing driver, who leads the points standings during his second season in the Xfinity Series in the No. 3 Chevrolet. Dillon, 23, also is the latest star in a series of videos produced by series title sponsor Xfinity to showcase the circuit’s rising stars (the first featured Darrell Wallace Jr. last month).
In the video (which is above), Dillon is noted for being a relative unknown in NASCAR compared to his grandfather (championship car owner Richard Childress), his older brother (2013 Xfinity champion Austin Dillon) and the man who made his No. 3 famous (the late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt).
Dillon doesn’t mind trying to live up to greatness. He has held his own against the weekly squadron of Sprint Cup interlopers who invade the lower-tier series and gobble up good positions.
“When you race against the best week in week out, you start holding yourself to that standard,” he said. “You start realizing what you need to go faster. I like measuring myself against those guys and sizing them up for when I get to the Cup (Series).”
Entering Friday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300, Dillon has four top 10s in five starts. His worst was a 14th in the March 21 race at Auto Club Speedway, where an unbalanced setup cost him.
“We came back to the shop and found the reason we were so off,” he said. “It was pretty disappointing to enter with a double-digit points lead and leave with a 5-point lead.”
Despite the struggles, he still managed to finish two spots better than where he qualified (16th) at Fontana, Calif., which wasn’t surprising. With an average start of 19.6 and an average finish of 6.8, qualifying has been his team’s biggest weakness.
“That’s a focus for us,” said Dillon, whose season-best start is 11th at Phoenix International Raceway. “But the races have been really good for us, competing in the top five and finishing good.
“It shows a strength in our team and not giving up on a weekend, getting the finishes we deserve. Our motto is not accepting mediocrity. That was what was disappointing about (the Auto Club race). We couldn’t find that extra bit to get back to the front.”
Dillon wants to keep moving forward in NASCAR, too. After finishing 28th in the season-opening Daytona 500, he wants to run a half-dozen more Sprint Cup races this year and hopes to follow his older brother’s progression to the sport’s top rung after an Xfinity title.
“I’d love to do it full time next year,” he said. “That is the goal to run Cup. We have to land the sponsorship, but if we can do that, I think we will. I’m mainly focused this year on winning this championship. If they can’t sell sponsorship when we’re winning championships, then we’ve got other issues to worry about.”