Race Weekend Central

Ty Dillon Talks Championship Aspirations & the Challenges of Joining a New Team

The beginning of the 2024 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season marked a new chapter in Ty Dillon‘s racing career, as he made the move to the Rackley W.A.R. No. 25.

Following a couple tough seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series, Dillon made the move back to the Truck Series, searching for success. However, Dillon and the team were met with struggles to begin the season, many being no fault of their own.

Nonetheless, the team has persevered and begun to turn their season around, putting together back-to-back top-15 runs at Kansas Speedway and Darlington Raceway and picking up their first top 10 of the year in the latter.

In the meantime, Dillon found his way back to the Cup Series, signing a part-time deal with Kaulig Racing to run the No. 16 in select races. Dillon picked up a 16th at Texas Motor Speedway, his best run since the summer race at Daytona International Speedway in 2023.

Frontstretch caught up with Dillon at Martinsville Speedway back in April, right in the middle of the turnaround for Dillon and Rackley W.A.R., to talk about the changes of being with a new team, how his deal with Kaulig came about and everything it takes to get around Martinsville.

Chase Folsom, Frontstretch: It’s always tough to move over to a new team and get acclimated. How’s the experience been as you’ve moved over to the No. 25 team in 2024?

Ty Dillon: Yeah, it’s been quite unique. Obviously, the team is based about an hour and a half outside of Nashville. So not only do you fly in there, but you’ve got another hour drive to the race shop. It’s a great shop. We’ve got a small team that’s working really hard. I think we were a little bit behind getting going this offseason.

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Starting this year, we’ve just had some really bad luck, and we’ve also had self-inflicted bad luck as well that has really hampered the start of our year. But there have been some silver linings.

We’ve had some speed in some practice sessions and some of the races we’ve been able to get speed. But we really haven’t had a full session on track yet where we haven’t had something break or have some mistakes. So hopefully we can get past that, and I think we’ll really start seeing our team rise to the front.

Folsom: Obviously, this was a playoff team last year, but it’s a small team. What were your expectations when you moved over here [to Rackley W.A.R.]?

Dillon: My expectations were to win races, and they still haven’t changed. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of growing to do, but our goal is to win races and make the championship push and try to go win the championship.

I think we’re capable of it. I know as a driver I am for sure. We just have to cross some T’s and dot some I’s a little bit better, and I think we’ll build some momentum and get ourselves there.

Folsom: To put together a great run at Circuit of the Americas, at a track that’s not historically your best type of racetrack, how much confidence does that give you as you make a playoff push?

Dillon: Yeah, it fills a little bit of confidence just to have a race finish where we’re competing throughout the race. We still had some mechanical issues within that race. We were able to get that finish in spite of that, so I guess that’s a positive. But we’re taking small wins right now and trying to build them into hopefully top 10s, turn into top fives and then you’re racing for wins.

So we’re knocking on the door of getting that first top 10. I think Martinsville is going to be a great one for us, but every track we go forward, I know we have a chance to win races at.

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Folsom: You mentioned Martinsville. You have a pretty good track record here with two top fives in the Truck Series previously. How do you feel about your chances tonight?

Dillon: I feel really good, obviously. I probably have more laps than most of the field here in all of the Cup races I’ve run, but it’s been a long time since I’ve raced a truck around here. There will be a little bit of an adjustment period I’m sure in practice, just getting used to the difference in the car and the truck.

But this is one of those places it helps to have experience, and the biggest thing for us tonight is just to make sure we execute and don’t have any mistakes, mechanical or on-track, and I think we’ll have a great night.

Folsom: You talk about experience being key. What are the other keys to putting together a full 200-lap race and being up front at the end?

Dillon: I think, obviously, you want to be out front leading all the laps. But if you get caught back in traffic and you’re racing through the field, it’s just patience. You don’t want to tear up your fenders or tear up your truck at the wrong point in the race.

Just knowing when to push and when not to push, race the racetrack for most of the race and not get too emotionally involved with other guys around you. Because there’s going to be a lot of beating and banging that doesn’t make sense. You’ve got to kind of keep your head and keep yourself in position to go out and capitalize at the end.

Folsom: You just signed a deal with Kaulig Racing to run a few races with them in Cup. How did that deal come together, and what are your expectations?

Dillon: The deal came together quite late, but I’m excited to have the opportunity in Cup, especially with Kaulig Racing, a team that won races last year. This year, they’re off to a little bit of a rough start as far as finishes and results. Just driving that car, it was a really nice car to drive, and being able to work with [crew chief] Travis Mack and those guys.

Our result [at Richmond] really wasn’t what we wanted, but we ran really strong in that race. We drove up to 21st at a point, especially starting in the back. I think the qualifying metric in Cup is so tough right now if you’re behind in points to really get a good starting spot, but we were able to battle pretty good, I think I had one mistake on pit road.

I just couldn’t get out of the stall good enough behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and that set our night back. But overall, I think we were all pretty happy with the speed we had in the car and just looking forward to building momentum off of that going into my next one at Texas.

Folsom: A lot of guys these days will go run short track races, dirt races, whatever they can to get extra seat time. Rackley obviously has a late model program. Have you put any thought into running any late model races this year?

Dillon: Yeah, it would be fun, definitely. Just a matter of finding time in the schedule and when you can do that. Obviously, I’m focused on trying to run the Truck races and getting as many Cup races in there as possible. So I just want to make sure my schedule is open to do Cup races, Xfinity and Truck first, but it’s always fun to go back and run late models.

I’ve only run one Super Late Model race ever on asphalt. I’ve got a ton on dirt, but they are fun cars to drive. And I know the Rackley W.A.R. late model program is top notch, probably the best in the country, so it would be fun to go drive one.

Folsom: It’s early in the season, but Silly Season never really stops in NASCAR. Have you started talking to anybody about your plans for next year, maybe staying here or another Cup ride?

Dillon: Not really. It’s really early in the season. Just had so much go on the last couple years and just kind of know when to worry about that and not.

I think you can get to worrying about what you’re going to be doing next and really just forget about where you are now. So [I’m] kind of worried about where my feet are planted now and focus on trying to get this Truck team going, battling for race wins and championships. And we’ll get to that next step eventually in the future.

About the author

Chase began working with Frontstretch in the spring of 2023 as a news writer, while also helping fill in for other columns as needed. Chase is now the main writer and reporter for Frontstretch.com's CARS Tour coverage, a role which began late in 2023.  Aside from racing, some of Chase's other hobbies include time in the outdoors hunting and fishing, and keeping up with all things Philadelphia sports related.

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Bill B

19th in points?

A little premature to start talking about a championship.

Dream on.

CCColorado

Very much agree!!! Championship? Really? If he wasn’t riding granddaddy’s money bags he would be gone a long time ago.
Which is too bad, I understand he’s a nice guy.

Christopher

Ty Dillon is delusional. It doesn’t matter what team he’s been with or what team he may be with. Statistics don’t lie. He’s a back marker driver and that will not change.

DoninAjax

He has as good a chance to win ANY title as Carl Long. I”m guessing but he probably has his Hall of Fame speech ready, like his brother.

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