By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
2021 has been a planet-sized shift for Ty Dillon and his racing career. Going from full-time competition in the NASCAR Cup Series from 2017-2020, the youngest Dillon brother has been clawing for any chance to race in 2021.
Running his second race with Our Motorsports in the Xfinity Series this year, Dillon scored a top-five finish late in Saturday’s Credit Karma Money 250 from Atlanta Motor Speedway. The result, his best in any race this year, gave him a smile months in the making.
“[Our] prepares and puts a good foot forward for these races,” Dillon said. “We need young and enthusiastic teams, years-wise, that continue to push the sport forward and give guys opportunities. You never know, they can end up like a Kaulig Racing going Cup racing.
“There is a model there that people are starting to realize. A way to do it right.”
With only six Xfinity starts this year, Dillon has started just four Cup races for Gaunt Brothers Racing. Quite the shift from full-time racing just on year ago at the premier level.
“It’s been different, it’s been tough,” he said of 2021. “A lot of grinding, a lot of days staying on the phone just trying to get an opportunity. When you do something for so long that you love and it slips through the end of your fingertips, you get good perspective back in your life.
“I’m just eternally grateful for the opportunities I have gotten. I’ve never been hungrier inside a racecar, I’ve never wanted it worse. Hopefully somebody will realize that and give me an opportunity back in Cup to go full-time racing. That’s where I want to be and where I belong.”
Running for three different teams on a part-time basis across two different series this year, Dillon, 29, has no clue where his next start will come.
“Honestly, I could not be racing the rest of the year or I could race another 20 races,” he said. “I have nothing that is for sure scheduled for anything. I have a lot in pending, and it all matters for dollars.
“Hopefully, there are companies out there who see me more than just a driver [but also] someone who can grow their brand. I think I can do a lot for people on and off track. I still believe I am one of the best out here.”