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Childress prideful about Dillon brothers' success

October 10, 2012, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com



Childress prideful about Dillon brothers' success
Grandfather and owner of Richard Childress Racing excited for pair's future

WELCOME, N.C. -- Richard Childress has always held a fond place in his racer's heart for Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"The thing about Charlotte is that it's like a family race," Childress said. "Everyone's families -- the drivers, the pit crews, the crew chiefs -- all their families come to the race in Charlotte. It's just a big family atmosphere. That's one of the great things about Charlotte -- that it's so close to so many of our race shops that we can have our families come. You can stand up and look down at that infield and see all the kids playing with each other. It just reaffirms to me that NASCAR has a bright future with all the young fans we have of the sport."

"Austin and Ty have done a great job. ... There are a lot of kids who have had help getting to a bigger level or the next level that don't have anything at all to show for it. These guys can drive. That's a big difference." "

--ELLIOTT SADLER

Not just the young fans of the sport, but the young competitors of the sport -- and that would include Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon, two of Childress's grandchildren. It wasn't that long ago that Childress looked down to take a mental snapshot of the infield at CMS or some other track and he saw the two of them throwing a baseball or tossing around a football.

Now Childress heads into this latest race weekend at CMS hoping to watch Austin close the gap on Elliott Sadler, his Richard Childress Racing teammate, in the battle for the Nationwide Series championship. Heading into Friday night's Dollar General 300 at the 1.5-mile track, Austin trails Sadler by 25 points and is third in the points standings, only 16 out of second with five races to go.

Ty Dillon isn't racing this weekend. But he currently leads the Camping World Truck Series point standings, holding a one-point edge over James Buescher with four races remaining after Ty's fourth-place finish last Saturday at Talladega.

During a season that has been mostly a struggle on the Sprint Cup side for owner Childress, his grandsons have been bright spots.

"I'm really proud of them," Childress said. "They drive hard, they work out hard, they study. They do a lot of studying of prior races. I think a lot of times when they were little kids running around, we didn't think they were paying any attention. But evidently, they paid more attention than we thought. They're two really good young men, and I'm proud of that also."

Sadler confirmed that Childress has much about which to be proud. While it's true that perhaps much has been given to the two Dillon boys, it has been up to them to make the most of it -- and to this point, they have. Sadler said they have earned their current positions as championship contenders in their respective series.

"They have had great equipment, and they still do have great equipment. But you have got to drive the car. Period," Sadler said. "At the end of the day, you have got to drive the car or truck. There are a lot of kids out there who have had their dads and families help with money or situations who couldn't drive a lick, who tear up stuff every week and don't make it. These guys have gotten in there and are battling for championships. You can't buy a championship. You can buy the best equipment in the world, but if the kid gets up there and doesn't know what he's doing, it doesn't matter how much money you spend.

"Austin and Ty have done a great job. Austin has run almost every lap this year in the Nationwide Series. That's not handing him anything. He's earned his right to run for this championship.

"...What I'm saying is that there are a lot of kids who have had help getting to a bigger level or the next level that don't have anything at all to show for it. Austin already has a Truck championship to show for it [which he won last year]. Now he's got a shot at a Nationwide championship. I hope he finishes second to me this year, but he's got a good chance to win the Nationwide championship and Ty has a good shot to win the Truck championship this year. These guys can drive. That's a big difference."

Ty Dillon has earned three poles, six top-fives and 16 top-10 finishes to go along with his one win at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he passed none other than Kyle Busch for the lead with six laps to go. He also finished third at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his Nationwide debut.

Sure, he would like to win the Truck Series championship in the same No. 3 Chevrolet truck that his big brother drove to the title last year. But with the next truck race set for Oct. 27 at Martinsville Speedway, Ty said he's honed in on adding hardware to the RCR trophy case more than anything.

"We're mainly just focusing on trying to win races," he said. "Our team hasn't really had the points battle enter into our heads too much yet. We haven't talked about it that much. Our main goal is to fill our trophy case full of wins, and then the points will come. We've been good enough to be really consistent this year. ... I think we've really hit our stride at the right time of the year."

Sadler said watching Ty from a distance has been eye-opening this year.

"I think what Ty Dillon is doing is amazing," Sadler said. "We all know he's got a good race team, he's got good equipment. But to go to these race tracks for the first time and race against these other teams -- and these other drivers who have raced at this tracks before and have years and years of experience -- and to be leading the points right now, I think that says a lot for him.

"No one can drive that truck for him when they're racing. No one but him can make that split-second decision when you're side-by-side, three-wide, knowing where to put your truck and keep it in one piece. At a young age, and for the first time racing for a championship at this level, I think he's doing [darn] good."

Austin Dillon continues to progress well in his career, too. In his first full-time Nationwide Series season, he has earned three poles, 14 top-fives and 22 top-10 finishes to go along with a pair of wins at Kentucky Speedway in 28 starts. He said he is looking forward to attempting to cut into Sadler's lead in the points this Friday at Charlotte.

"The position we're in, we just need to try to take advantage of every point we can," Austin Dillon said. "Charlotte is a tough track. I've noticed that over the last three years when I've run it. It's just a place that's hard to get a hold of. One minute you think you've got it, and then the temperature changes and the car changes -- and you've got to move around and find a line that works for you. It's definitely a challenging track where anything can happen. It's going to be a key part of the championship run."

Again, Sadler said he has been impressed with Austin Dillon's talent and perseverance while working closely with him this season.

"I work with Austin more than Ty, but he understands what he wants in a race car. And that's so important. It's big because a race-car driver, especially his age, sometimes struggles with being able to communicate that," Sadler said.

"But they're good people, too. Ty's a little more quiet than Austin is. Austin likes to talk a lot. But they're good, good people -- and they are for sure real talents.

"... As fast as they were in a dirt car, I think we all saw that they were going to have the talent coming up. Because they could go anywhere and race on different styles of dirt tracks and win races. That's usually the key. If guys can run will on different kinds of race tracks and win, they'll usually continue to do well when they move up. Running well at one track usually doesn't translate. You need to race at different tracks against different people who have different kinds of interpretations of what it takes to be competitive. If you can compete in those different environments, that usually means you're a pretty good race-car driver."

It's all been enough to keep a permanent smile on the face of Richard Childress, who remembers the grandkids playing in the infield at Charlotte not too many years ago. Now, they're competing on the track with some of the world's best drivers.

He said he knows they have work left to do before they each reach for the ultimate goal of becoming competitive Cup drivers. But he also acknowledged that they are getting closer every day.

"What it is, and they're working on it, is just track time and experience. And they want to get it at all the levels. They want to learn how to win and how to race for championships," Childress said. "They've won in everything they've ever driven in. They just want to keep getting the experience that it takes to get to the next level."