Race Weekend Central

2012 NASCAR Driver Review: Ty Dillon

Ty Dillon

2012 Ride: No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
2012 Primary Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
2012 Owner: Richard Childress
2012 Crew Chief: Scott Naset (Feb. – June), Marcus Richmond (July – Nov.)
2012 Truck Series Stats: 22 starts, 1 win, 7 top fives, 17 top 10s, 3 poles, 0 DNFs, fourth in points

High Point: Atlanta. A driver’s first win in a series is always special and that is why it is the high point for Dillon’s 2012 season. Dillon won his first race by making a pass on Kyle Busch on lap 125 of the 130-lap event. Dillon started from the pole and led 40 laps total en route to his first, and so far only, win in the Truck Series. Dillon made more than one pass for the lead on Busch during the course of the event, mixing it up with one of the sport’s top drivers before finally pushing ahead for good in the closing stages.

Low Point: The Kroger 200 at Martinsville this fall was the undoing of Dillon’s hopes for winning a Truck Series championship. He came into the race with a one-point lead over James Buescher, qualified sixth and looked like he’d battle for the win. Unfortunately, a flat tire and the resulting damage to his truck resulted in Dillon finishing a disappointing 28th, six laps down. It was a 22-point swing in the championship chase and sealed Dillon’s fate for the season; he’d score just one top-five result the rest of the way. Dillon did win the Rookie of the Year title going away, but that was hardly a consolation prize when you think of what could have been.

Summary: Dillon entered the Camping World Truck Series fresh off a 2011 ARCA series championship. He was climbing behind the wheel of the championship-winning Truck from the previous year, albeit not with the all of the same players in place on the team. But just like his brother, Ty didn’t take long to figure out how to take this Truck Series team to the top. Dillon clawed his way from a ninth-place finish in the season-opening race at Daytona to the points lead after Michigan in August.

He immediately slipped back to third after a 21st-place run at Bristol but was back in the top spot after Iowa in September. He held the lead until that day in Martinsville (see above) which put an end to his title hopes. Dillon finished the year with a 15th and two finishes of 25th or worse in the last four races to limp to the finish line.

At Homestead, the season ender Dillon did put forth a valiant effort to chase down Buescher. Running a smart race inside the top five while Buescher struggled, he had an opportunity to steal the win in the closing stages. But while battling for a spot with Kyle Larson, another young driver, the two made contact entering turn 3 and wrecked Dillon out of contention. If not for that fateful moment, we could be talking about your first rookie champion in Truck Series history.

Team Ranking: Second of two. In a nearly dead heat with his teammate Joey Coulter, Dillon comes up just short based on points finish. Both drivers scored one win and three poles, proof of their ability to run up front on a weekly basis. Coulter had one more top five, but two fewer top 10s as Dillon was more of a consistent title contender. In the end though, Coulter was third in points while Dillon was fourth, based on a late-season slump which relegated the rookie to second best.

2013 Outlook: The script has been written for the No. 3 team in the Camping World Truck Series before. Austin Dillon won Rookie of the Year in his first season, finishing fifth in points. He went on to take the championship home in his second season. Ty has the Rookie of the Year in the trophy case; now, it is time for him to win the title. Buescher is returning to defend his championship, so the task will not be an easy one. However, with RCR resources behind the effort, Dillon will have everything he needs to take home the big prize in Homestead.

2012 Frontstretch Grade: A-

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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