By David Morgan, Associate Editor
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway will mark the 100th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start for Ty Dillon in a career that has stretched back to the 2014 season.
After getting his start on a part-time basis driving for his grandfather at Richard Childress Racing, Dillon moved over to Germain Racing full-time in 2017, where he has remained ever since. Though the younger Dillon brother has yet to visit Victory Lane, he noted Sunday’s milestone coming at Talladega would be a special moment for him and his family.
“This is where some of the biggest breaks in the lineage of our family has happened,” Dillon said. “There is so much success here with my grandfather and Dale (Earnhardt, Sr.) and RCR in general and for myself.
“One of the biggest moments in my career was being able to drive for Tony Stewart when he hurt his back. The final race of that stint, we had had a really good run in that No. 14 car and probably should have finished in the top 10 at Bristol. We were running inside the top 10 and got moved around by Dale Jr. with inside 20 to go. On the last race, Tony was feeling better. His back was healing but he wasn’t comfortable with running the full race. It was my last opportunity to get in the car and we did the switch during the race and I hopped in the car and finished sixth unofficially. It gave Tony another top 10, like he needed it. But, that would have been my first top 10.
“Just that moment, coming here at Talladega, I won an ARCA race here and it’s a very historic track for NASCAR and it means a lot to my family and myself.”
When it comes to superspeedways, drivers running for underdog teams, like Dillon and Germain Racing, see an opportunity to bring home a good finish, or even contend for the win. A day ahead of crossing the century mark of starts, Dillon aluded to that very idea.
“Superspeedways are an opportunity for us as much as short tracks now, where we can really show what we’re capable of,” Dillon added. “It kind of equalizes the field in our terms. When we get to 1.5-miles, we have a little bit of growth to do. That’s where the money war of being in the wind tunnel constantly is a tough battle. We’re getting there. We’re getting better as a team. But, when we come to superspeedways and short tracks we really look at these opportunities as our chance.”
In order to make some magic happen on Sunday, Dillon will have to survive what will likely be an exciting race at Talladega, with a new aero package that has seen speeds cross the 200 mph threshold and get as high as 204 mph.
“I think NASCAR tried to slow down the cars when we got faster,” Dillon said of the feeling behind the wheel with the new package. “I think what we’re doing is we’re punching a bigger hole through the air, which puts less air on the car behind you and you go faster. So, I don’t know exactly what we’re doing, but I think the racing is going to be good no matter what.
“It’s going to be crazy. I think the cars, the runs, and when you side-draft somebody and slow down the run, everything is happening twice as fast as it’s ever happened, which is tough to catch-up to for a lot of drivers. So, I think there’s going to be an adjustment period. And what that looks like in NASCAR is, I don’t know. We’ll see. But, I think when we put the wickers on, driving-wise; it made the cars looser, but it didn’t make us run any further apart.”
Dillon finished practice in ninth and 19th and will roll off 13th for Sunday’s race, giving a bit of advice for everyone when it comes to the 50th running of the GEICO 500 at Talladega.
“Pull your seat belts tight for tomorrow. It’s going to be fun.”