NASCAR’s Next Generation: Q&A with Tyler Dippel

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Have you ever spent a day throwing up what felt like 10 times and then gone to work?

Tyler Dippel has.

That was the case Sept. 17 when Dippel, a rookie in the K&N Pro Series East, found himself in the infield care center at New Jersey Motorsports Park, a road course in Millville, New Jersey. The 16-year-old driver from Walkill, New York, had spent the day emptying his stomach thanks to a bad case of the flu.

“It was rough,” Dippel told NBC Sports. “I just had to fight through it because we were still third in points.”

Dippel was given three bags of IV fluids and nausea medicine before he climbed into his No. 38 Chevrolet for HScott Motorsports for the 55-lap race, which he would finish seventh.

“They had a substitute ready in case I got sick inside the car or something, but I wasn’t going to get out of the car unless I was blacking out or throwing up in my helmet,” Dippel said. “I was just going to muscle through the pain.”

And there’s been a fair amount of physical pain in Dippel’s career. Last year, while preparing to unload a car at a dirt track, a winch failed and the door to his trailer fell on Dippel. His pelvis broke in five places.

“It was not like any pain (I’ve had) before,” Dippel said. “I don’t really remember too much about it because the pain was so great, I really wasn’t with it all.”

Dippel, the son of a former professional Motocross racer, spent three nights in the hospital before being bedridden for three weeks. There was no surgery needed and he was only out of a cockpit for eight weeks.

“I got really lucky,” Dippel said. “The bones were all broken, but they were still all in alignment with each other. So I didn’t have to wear a cast. So my body didn’t really get a stiffness from being in a cast.”

Those weren’t his first broken bones. At 12, Dippel broke a tibia and a fibula after flipping a four-wheeler. And years before that, a dirt bike accident resulted in a collarbone injury that led to his parents encouraging him to take up auto racing.

But to keep from receiving further injuries, maybe Dippel should be in a cockpit at all times.

“Yeah, in a five-point harness,” Dippel says with a laugh.

Dippel, who has scored the most points this season among all Rookie of the Year candidates in the K&N East, won in his second start at Mobile International Speedway. In May, Dippel was made part of the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class.

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC SPORTS: As a 16-year-old driver, what do you look for in a team aside from it being successful consistently?

Dippel: Probably a real good crew, just having a good relationship with the crew to mesh together. If everyone’s having fun and working well together, I think that’s partially what makes the team successful, too.

NBC SPORTS: At what point this year did you feel your team was jelling at 100 percent?

Dippel: We started jelling from the first race. I think we had an (eighth) place the first race and we ended up winning the second race of the season. We jelled pretty quick I thought. We had a little bit of bad luck in the middle season, blew a motor, blew a (transmission), had a bunch of flat tires, just a couple of things that didn’t go our way, but we’ve always been engaged.

NBC Sports: What’s your earliest memory of racing?

Dippel: Probably when I got my first race car when I was 8 years old for Christmas. It was a slingshot, a little bit bigger than a go-kart, kind of like a scaled down Northeast Dirt Modified. They have the same motor that a Bandelero has and it’s just a dirt car pretty much.

NBC Sports: What’s the  best race you’ve been in or ever watched?

Dippel: Probably a Super Dirt Car Series race at the Dirt Track at Charlotte. That race was just so fun, there’s a big cushion right against the wall and you had to be inches from the wall, just sideways. There were guys on the bottom and there were lead changes, slide jobs going left and right. I was leading for most of the race and unfortunately jumped the cushion on the last lap and gave it up. We still had a really good run there.

NBC Sports: What do you consider your theme song?

Dippel: Empire State of Mind by Jay Z

NBC Sports: What’s the fastest you’ve ever been in a street car?

Dippel: I don’t have my license yet, probably like 100 (mph). I haven’t really gone that fast in a street car.

NBC Sports: When do you get your license?

Dippel: I’m scheduled to take my road test next month. I turned 16 in April and you have to wait six months to get your license in New York. That kind of stinks.

NBC Sports: How did you do on the written test?

Dippel: I got one question wrong. I think there was 20 questions.

NBC Sports: What do you want your first car to be, if you don’t already have it?

Dippel: It will probably be a truck of some sort to pick up and haul trailers and race car parts. That would probably be the most practical.

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Circuit of the Americas to host Cup for first time in 2021

R. Kevin Butts photo - Courtesy of COTA
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The Cup Series will do more road course racing in 2021 with the addition of the Circuit of the Americas to the schedule, the track announced Wednesday.

The Cup race will be held May 23.

The 3.41-mile road course in Austin, Texas, has hosted Formula One and IndyCar races, among others since its debut in 2012. The track also has a 2.2-mile, 15-turn short course. Announcements regarding race length, course selection and the full weekend schedule will be made at a later date.

MORE: Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

A NASCAR event has never been held at Circuit of the Americas, but Tony Stewart piloted a Stewart-Haas Racing car there last year in a demonstration run.

COTA is located roughly 220 miles south of Texas Motor Speedway. Speedway Motorsports will be the event’s promoter.

“Our company is proud to have a 60-year history of fabulous firsts in motorsports entertainment, and we are honored to bring America’s premier racing series to one of the world’s most renowned entertainment venues and cities for the very first time,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith in a statement. “I’d like to thank COTA CEO Bobby Epstein as well as NASCAR’s executive leadership for supporting us in an endeavor to do something that we believe will be spectacular for race fans, not only in Texas but around the world. We work and challenge ourselves every day at Speedway Motorsports to create amazing experiences that will last a lifetime, and we know NASCAR at COTA will deliver in 2021.” 

“I’m grateful for Marcus Smith’s vision and determination to make this event possible,” said Circuit of the Americas CEO and Chairman, Bobby Epstein in a statement. “His teams in Charlotte and at Texas Motor Speedway have created a spirit of partnership that will make for a spectacular weekend of fun and competition. Speedway Motorsports, along with the leadership at NASCAR, have a ‘Fans First’ attitude and have responded to everyone who has long desired to see a Cup Series race at COTA. Fans who’ve been here before will witness stock car racing at its finest for the first time, and first-time visitors will be amazed at the views and friendly experience. It will be our pleasure to write another chapter of motorsports history alongside Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR in 2021.” 

The complete 2021 schedule will be announced this afternoon by NASCAR.

Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

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The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021 but will race on the road course for the first time instead of the oval, track officials announced Wednesday.

Cup will race on the road course on Aug. 15. That race will be held a day after the NTT IndyCar Series races on the Indy road course.

“Our first NASCAR-IndyCar weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants involved,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and IndyCar together during this exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

MORE: Atlanta to have two Cup dates in 2021

MORE: Darlington to run Cup races on Mother’s Day, Labor Day weekend in 2021

The Cup Series has raced at Indy since 1994. But as the racing there has been questioned and the sport has made a push for more road course races, NASCAR moved the Xfinity Series to the road course this year as a trial. The event was well received, creating the opportunity to move next year’s Cup race to the road course as well.

“Indy is Indy, no matter if you’re on the road course or you’re on the oval,” Joey Logano said of what a win there would mean. “It doesn’t matter. If you’re on the dirt track, I don’t care, it’s Indy. It’s that big deal to win there. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a Cup car, IndyCar or a tricycle, you want to win at that race track.”

Indy’s road course is 2.439 miles and features 14 turns. Chase Briscoe won the Xfinity race there after a four-car battle for the lead in the final laps.

The full Cup schedule will be announced Wednesday afternoon. The Xfinity schedule will be announced at a later date. Boles said on a media Zoom he was unsure of the Xfinity plans but talked with Logano about an interest Logano would have in running in a Xfinity race there to get more track time for the Cup race.


Darlington Raceway gets second Cup race for 2021

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Darlington Raceway will have two races in 2021, marking the first time since 2004 that the track has been scheduled to hold multiple Cup races in a season. The track announced its schedule Wednesday with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster at the Governor’s mansion.

“Congratulations. Thank you. Hallelujah,” Gov. McMaster said after the dates were announced.

Darlington was scheduled to host one race in 2020 but added two more in NASCAR’s return to racing after the season was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MORE: Atlanta to host two Cup races in 2021 for first time since 2010

The track will hold its first Cup race next season on May 9. That is Mother’s Day. It marks only the third time in the last 40 years the series will have run on Mother’s Day. The series last raced on Mother’s Day in 2007 when rain forced the Darlington race to be held that afternoon. The only other time NASCAR raced on Mother’s Day in the last 40 years was 1986 when the All-Star Race was held at Atlanta.

Darlington’s second date will be its Southern 500 event on Sept. 5, Labor Day weekend. That race will again open the  Cup playoffs.

NASCAR will announce the 2021 Cup schedule on Wednesday afternoon.

Darlington hosted two Cup races a season from 1960-2004. It held one Cup race from 2005-19.

The track stated that 2021 schedules for the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be announced at a later date.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, tweeted that the Darlington races would be run with the low downforce package.



Atlanta to host two Cup races in 2021

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Atlanta Motor Speedway will host two Cup races in 2021, marking the first time since 2010 that the 1.5-mile speedway will have multiple Cup events in the same season.

Atlanta will host Cup races on March 21 and July 11.

The July 11 race will be the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart, moving sponsorship that had been with Kentucky Speedway. Kentucky Speedway will not be on the 2021 schedule. Its date becomes the second Atlanta date. The March race will be known at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

The July race marks the first 400-mile race at Atlanta since 1966.

The track announced its dates Wednesday morning. The full 2021 Cup schedule will be released Wednesday afternoon.

Atlanta Motor Speedway stated on its website that it plans to host fans in its stands and camping areas in socially distanced, limited capacity for each of its Cup races in 2021.

“We’re beyond excited to deliver what our fans have been yearning for: a second weekend of NASCAR action in Atlanta once again,” AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison said in a statement. “Folds of Honor and QuikTrip continue to be phenomenal partners for our spring weekend of racing and we’re thrilled to have Quaker State and Walmart on board this summer as we put together two weekends of entertainment and excitement for race fans.”