The Dillon Brothers - Continuing the Legacy
Ty and Austin Dillon at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship trophy after the 2011 Ford 200. (Courtesy: Getty Images)
Our first feature on Jimmie Johnson put the spotlight on the driver that spent half a decade dominating NASCAR, leaving Homestead-Miami Speedway with five consecutive championships.
Our next feature is a “twofer,” profiling Austin and Ty Dillon, who were both young teens when Johnson first hoisted a season championship trophy in South Florida. When it’s all said and done, the brothers might have trophy cases and career resumes that equal Johnson’s.
All Austin, 22, has done in his first two years in NASCAR is win the Camping World Truck Series Championship last year, preceded by Rookie of the Year honors in 2010. The then-21 year old became the youngest champion in series history.
Austin moved up to the NASCAR Nationwide Series for 2012 and is off to an auspicious start with the No. 3 AdvoCare/American Ethanol/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. After nine races, he’s third in points.
Meanwhile, 20 year-old Ty, driver of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, is currently fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, fourteen points back.
Continuing the legacy seems to come with the territory in this family – Austin and Ty are the grandsons of Richard Childress and the sons of Richard Childress Racing’s general manager Mike Dillon. Richard Childress Racing (RCR) became synonymous with success and championships with the legendary Dale Earnhardt and the famed black No. 3 Chevrolet. RCR has earned 12 championships, more than 200 victories, and was the first organization to win titles in NASCAR’s three main series.
If all goes to plan, the famous No. 3 will stay in the family and help RCR build on its dozen championships.
Q. You won Rookie of the Year honors in 2010 and followed it up last season with the Camping World Truck Series Championship, won in Miami. What are your goals and definitions of success this year?
A. Going to the Nationwide Series, this is our rookie season. I plan on taking the same path that we did in the truck series, going into Homestead with a shot at a points championship and the rookie of the year title. If we can take home both of those, it’d be a wonderful year. But, our main goal first is that Rookie of the Year, and then we’ll see what we can do with that championship.
Q. What are your memories from Homestead-Miami Speedway last November 18, starting when your team came on radio during the truck race and told you that you’d won the championship?
A. I enjoyed all of the after-race festivities; holding the trophy in turns 3 and 4, taking the pictures that we took, and getting to stand with Tony Stewart and Rickey Stenhouse -- the other champions -- on Sunday. It was a great day and I’ll never forget it.
Q. The No. 3 car and Richard Childress Racing did not run in Nationwide last year. You’re changing that. Is there any point of pride to carrying that historic car number into the Nationwide Series – a family tradition of sorts?
A. For sure. I want to take advantage of it and really go out there and put it out front just like we did in the trucks. Truthfully, I just want to work hard and win races with [the number 3].
Q. What would you do with an off day in South Florida?
A. I would love to be able to go deep sea fishing. I was able to do it in the Keys right after our race in 2010, so I’d definitely love to do some fishing.
Q. You have a double whammy of sorts: You come from very famous racing family and you’re following in your brother’s footsteps. Is this a good or bad thing?
A. It’s awesome. I got so much experience around me coming up that it’s made it really nice. I have every resource that I could use in the world, having Austin, my grandfather, my dad, all of the drivers at RCR, and all the greatest equipment in the world. I’ve got it all, and I’ve got to make the best of this opportunity, go out and win races and do what I’m capable of doing.
Q. How is it going so far this year?
A. It’s been fairly easy. I went to most of Austin’s races last year and I felt like I went through his learning curve with him. You know, just being with him and hearing what he’s had to say all last year, along with his crew chief and his team. And running a full season myself in the ARCA Series and winning a championship in that has helped, along with a bunch of guys that believe in me and helped win that championship with me. I’ve got a lot of confidence this year. I’ve got the equipment and the trucks that won a championship last year and a wonderful team. So, like I said, I have all of the knowledge and experience that I could ever use at RCR, so I don’t see why we can’t go after a championship in our first year and win a lot of races.
Q. Speaking of going through it all with Austin. What are your memories of Homestead-Miami Speedway and his championship last fall?
A. It was awesome. I was in the [Camping World Truck Series] race. We ran sixth in my third truck race ever. It was a great time. I really love Homestead. It’s a really fun racetrack and you can race around there. You can run two and three wide and make things happen. So, it’s a very interesting race track to go for the final race of the season and battle for a championship. You know that you’re going to drive your hardest because they are going to pass you if you’re not good enough. I’m excited to go back and enjoyed racing there last time.
Q. Put on your salesmen hat for a minute. Why should people be excited about the Dillon brothers and root for them in races?
A. It’s a breath of fresh air. My brother and I, we’re bringing something new to the sport – two brothers working their way to the top. People are able to follow us from the lowest ranks to, hopefully, the top ranks. We’re going to win races and do whatever it takes. We’re very determined people and we’re going to be exciting to watch.
NASCAR Camping world Truck Series rookie Ty Dillon takes the wheel of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet from his brother Austin, who drove it to a series championship last year before moving up to the NASCAR Nationwide Series
2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Austin Dillon celebrates with his team following the Ford 200 (Nov 18, 2011)
Courtesy: Getty Images