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Three Letters Key to Ty Dillon’s Championship Hopes

Three Letters Key to Ty Dillon’s Championship Hopes

by October 10, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

CONCORD, N.C. — With four races remaining in the NASCAR Nationwide Series season, the pressure for points leader Chase Elliott and for those chasing him for the title is at a season high entering the Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As Homestead looms in the distance, Elliott currently holds a 38-point lead over second-place driver Regan Smith in the points standings that has continued to grow. Although the gap from first-to-second has been on the rise, the gap from first to the third-place driver in the standings, Ty Dillon, has been holding steady in recent weeks and is down to 40 points from 46 after last week’s race at Kansas.

Dillon, the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, is not ruling himself out as a threat for the championship. Along with needing the help of some mediocre-to-bad runs by Elliott that will help the cause, it’s going to take a simple three-letter word for this year’s Indianapolis winner to get in a position to take the points lead – win.

“Our mindset [entering Charlotte] is three letters, and that’s ‘win,'” Dillon said at Charlotte on Thursday. “That’s kind of what we’ve got to do to get in this thing realistically. The No. 9’s done a great job all year. Being consistent and not falling out of the top-10 and gain as much points as possible. We’ve just got to win, put the pressure on, and hope like they run like they did in Kansas from here on out and we’ll have a shot at it.

“Our team’s got a lot of momentum and we’ve been very fast. We’ve got a little work to do here at Charlotte, but we’re going to put the most pressure on, we’re never going to give up – we never give up with our team. Hopefully we’ll be there at the end to make something happen at Homestead.”

The championship and Rookie of the Year contender has turned up his performances in the second half of the season with a win at Indianapolis being supported by 10 top-10 and five top-five finishes. Since July’s Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona, Dillon’s worst finish in the series was a 19th-place result that came at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August.

As for what’s allowed Dillon to reel in Smith and keep up with Elliott in the points, Dillon believes that the JR Motorsports teammates haven’t lost a step midway through the season, but rather that he and his No. 3 team have gained momentum on them off of the strength of their performances.

“I don’t think they’ve really changed much, I think we’ve just kind of caught up,” he said of the JR Motorsports duo. “We were definitely a step-and-a-half back at the beginning of the year all the way until about halfway through the year. That kind of hurt us to get going, but we’ve been really strong and powerful.

“All of our RCR teams for the second half of the year – we’ve just all dug deep and aren’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. We’re going to get as much as we can out of our race cars each week. That’s kind of been our mindset, and it’s really turned things around at RCR.”

Even if he is to not win the championship, Dillon expects that the run the entire Richard Childress Racing organization have put together in the last half of the season will set them up for a great 2015. Dillon is expected to return full-time to the Nationwide Series next year to compete for the championship.

“I’m excited for the rest of this year and also for the start of next year,” he concluded. “I think the mindset that we’ve kind of turned into this second half of the year is going to really not only translate to the end of the year and to the championship run for our team, but for a strong [2015.]”

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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