Ty Dillon seeks first Nationwide win at Texas
April 03, 2014, Brad Norman, NASCAR.com
In five starts this season, Dillon has claimed four top-10 finishes
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FORT WORTH, Texas -- It was five months ago when Ty Dillon was sprayed with champagne in Victory Lane here at Texas Motor Speedway, when he lifted a sterling black trophy above his cowboy-hat fitted head as brother Austin Dillon and grandfather Richard Childress engulfed him.
The scene at the fall NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race carried an air of history as well -- Dillon's win was the 100th for Richard Childress Racing in a national series vehicle carrying the iconic No. 3.
The memory of that race, though, is just that for Ty Dillon. History is history, and the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver is more focused on what he wants to accomplish in the future than what he already has in the past.
"I'm the kind of a guy that wipes my slate clean every time I come to the race track," Dillon said Thursday. "I don't want to have lingering thoughts of, 'I came here and won last year and know exactly what to do.' I want to always push myself to be better. Now, it's cool to have confidence coming to a place you've won at and I just want to continue that over to the Nationwide Series. I love this track, and it's been very good to me."
It's been very good to the No. 3 program and crew chief Danny Stockman as well. In the previous two years, Austin Dillon drove the No. 3 to four finishes of sixth or better in the Nationwide Series. Stockman, in his first year working with Ty Dillon, has recorded top-fives in four of his past six races here. He called RCR's 1.5-mile program "one of the best in the sport."
That history, along with Dillon's successful ascent into the Nationwide Series, tells the story of a team that could be considered among the favorites for Friday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Dillon certainly looked capable of leading the pack during Thursday's practice sessions, in which the driver posted top speeds of 180.505 mph and 180.361 mph, respectively.
That opening session speed of 180.505 mph equated to a time of 29.916 seconds, which was 0.053 seconds faster than second-place Kyle Busch.
"Even though I'm a rookie, I don't compare myself to other rookies," Dillon said. "I try to compare myself to the Cup drivers, because that's what I want to be. I keep my eye on the rookie battle, too, because it's a good one and I feel like that's going to be part of the championship battle."
Running consistently while notching a win or two is the path to a series title, and Dillon has already started down that road.
In five starts this year, he has four top-10s and an 11th-place finish to boost up a rookie class in which the 22-year-old Dillon is practically a geriatric.
Racing cars his entire life, though, has forged an identity in Dillon that makes it OK to accept an 11th-place finish occasionally, but not embrace it.
"Things have gone pretty smooth this year, but me and Danny are very competitive," Dillon said. "We haven't been happy with some of our finishes, and we want to be up front battling for wins. I'm here to win races, not to finish fifth."