|Ty Dillon is not your ordinary NASCAR rookie - driving the championship truck|
under the glare of the media. Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR
Richard Childress' grandson. Austin's little brother. Call him what you will, but call Ty Dillon the future of NASCAR.
At just 20 years old the younger Dillon brother has inherited the championship No. 3 truck for Richard Childress Racing in his rookie season, but don't make the mistake of thinking he just happened into the ride, or it was handed to him because of his pedigree. Dillon has been working at this for a long time now.
With a career starting in Bandolero minicars and then progressing to K&N and winning the 2011 ARCA championship, Dillon earned his ride the old-fashioned way, by winning races.
Asking Dillon about his ARCA championship and whether the time racing there has been beneficial to his NASCAR career he replied, "Yeah definitely, just having experience running longer races and having to do pits stops, being used to a lot of these race tracks that are the same or similar to the ones that I raced on in the ARCA series. That helps with experience, being able to know your way around the race track a little bit and just having more racing experience and being able to run a full season; battling with a championship early on has helped us better prepare for this year.
As Dillon embarked on his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie season this year, many had already crowned him the 2012 champion before the season already started. Talk about pressure!
"We have put that expectation on ourselves too," Dillon said about the presumption that he would go out and win this season. "Like you said, we have the trucks that won the championship in the NCWTS last year and all the exact same equipment. I've got most of my team that I won the ARCA championship with, so we thought anything less then winning races and battling for a championship would not be a satisfactory season. We're going to work hard and do whatever it takes. We have the confidence in each other to go out and be able to make it happen," Dillon asserted.
Ty is asked relentlessly about who has influenced his career, his brother or "Pop Pop" but I was more curious about his father, Mike, who is the Vice President of Competition at RCR and himself a former Busch Series driver. What about his influence on Ty's career?
"He has influenced a lot, he is the one who is behind mine and Austin's careers both, pushing us from the start. He was a driver himself so he has experience in a lot of the things we are going through. He is always there to show us what is right and he is going to tell us when we are not doing things right, be that father figure when we need him also. He has been very influential, love having him at the racetrack and having him involved in our careers.
It is no secret that Ty and Austin Dillon are competitive in life but looking at the NASCAR stats. Austin won the 2010 Rookie of the Year award in the NCWTS and followed that up by the 2011 NCWTS championship but little brother has the chance to beat him with a two-for-one title/ROTY award combination.
"It would be a cool honor to be able to knock my brother off of the podium," Ty said. "To be the youngest to do it and to do it in one year, that would really be amazing to me. We are going to do everything it takes to do it. Me and my brother are competitive but in the end he will help me beat that goal because he wants me to be as successful as I can be. He wants to see me do well and be successful, as I do with him
On a fun note, the day I interviewed Ty he Tweeted "Got a little lesson on what it takes this morning by @KevinHarvick #buttkicked." Harvick replied to Ty, "Good news is your still young." Seeing the exchange between the two, I inquired about the "butt kicking."
"I got up this morning to work out with him, just spent a little time and worked out and learned how much in shape you have to be to run a Cup car. He's in real good shape, I was able to hang for a little but I don't ever get up early in the morning to work out, so getting up early put my body into shock. It whooped me pretty bad."
Did you know these facts about Ty Dillon:
Favorite track: "Anyone I can win at!"
Most memorable win in any series: "Probably Talladega in the ARCA Series."
Favorite race memory: "Winning the championship last race, last year in Toledo and doing in it the ARCA series my first year.
The best racing movie is...? "Days of Thunder" or the Dale Earnhardt biography.