Disappointed Ty Dillon at peace with NCWTS season and championship endingBy Kelly Crandall
When Kyle Larsen hit Ty Dillon on Friday night in Homestead and Dillon started sliding up towards the wall, he must have had that feeling. Knowing that he was about to wreck not only his No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, but his chase for a championship. The two were racing for the second position in the season finale, the Ford EcoBoost 200, when Larsen made a bold move inside Dillon getting into turn three.
It ended both of their nights, more importantly, it ended Dillon’s chance at catching James Buescher for the championship. As they were running on track, Dillon would have been within one point of Buescher with three laps to go.
“A racer is a racer, you’re going to try and win the race. But there’s sometimes when you’ve kind of got to think to the future a little bit and say if it’s really worth it at this point,” said Dillon afterwards about being raced as hard as he was by Larsen.
“We were running for second or third, maybe had an opportunity to win the race, but I was going to fight as hard as I could, maybe he could have passed me either way. I’m not blaming him for what happened, it’s just a racing move. I hate it happened the way it did. It probably could have been avoided from patience from probably both sides. But it sucks that it had to end our year that way.”
Buescher won his first career championship with a 13th place finish. Timothy Peters finished second and Dillon fell back to fourth after limping home to a 25th place finish. It was little consolation that he won Rookie of the Year, instead noting that his team deserved more for how well they ran this season. And he said, they never gave up until that last split second in turn three at Homestead.
“We had a wonderful season. I really couldn’t ask for much more besides a championship in our rookie year,” said Dillon, who held his head high after the race, answering every question. “I’m real proud of what my team was able to accomplish, and everything they put into it until the last seconds of the race there. It’s unfortunate. We were in a no-win situation, we just had to go out there and win the race and make something happen and that’s what I was trying to do.”
Dillon made a great run and last ditch effort for the championship in the closing laps. Out of the picture for much of the event, when Buescher started to slide backwards with a loose truck Dillon used his four tires to make a run at the win. Climbing to second when the accident happened. It was a racing accident and Dillon doesn’t feel that Larsen did it on purpose, going as far as to praise the driver from one young talent to another.
“Definitely didn’t think I crowded him, but just I hate it for my guys,” Dillon continued. “They worked really hard for me all year and I believed in them, and just I fell a little short. But it gives us something to strive for next year. We started out the year and we built our trophy case and wanted to win a race and sat on a couple poles and wanted the championship and the Rookie of the Year and we accomplished half of those, or most of them. We just missed that championship by a little bit.”
His final stats will show that Dillon won one race this year, at Atlanta in August. His three poles put him second best in the series, behind Nelson Piquet Jr.’s four. But Dillon led the series in top 10s, something that as a rookie put him in championship contention, he even led the standings for a few weeks.
Yet, where Dillon lacked in wins and bonus points for laps led, he nearly made up on Friday night. He was going for it and left everything he had on track. For as disappointing as that can be, Dillon knows there will be next year. Just like older brother Austin did in 2011, Ty will look to come back stronger in his second full-year and become a NASCAR champion.
“I’m all right with everything that played out, it’s just we were going for it and almost had it,” Dillon said. “We were trying to hit the home run in the bottom of the ninth and almost did it. It bounced off the wall.
“But that’s all right, we’ll be back next year and we’ll be fighting harder than ever, and we’ll be hoisting that trophy next year.”