Ty Dillon goes from ‘punk-ass kid’ to classy winner at Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS – When Kevin Harvick unleashed a surprising barrage of unsavory comments against Ty Dillon following last October’s truck race at Martinsville, it got the entire NASCAR world talking.

Dillon and Harvick, running third and second respectively at the time, had been involved in a wreck that took out both of their rides in the Camping World Truck Series event.

The race notwithstanding, it was a trying time for Harvick, who was less than a month away from leaving the only home he had ever known in Sprint Cup racing. At the same time, the younger Dillon brother was battling for the Truck series championship.

But what should have been nothing more than a wreck turned into a vicious verbal personal attack by Harvick upon Dillon and older brother Austin.

“I don’t care what they throw at me,” Harvick said at the time, according to a story on SportingNews.com. “That’s exactly the reason I’m leaving RCR is because you’ve got those punk-ass kids coming up.”

It’s clear Harvick was talking about the two Dillon boys, taking out what appeared to be simmering anger at both for who and what they were.

Not only were they Childress’ grandsons, they were also the future of RCR – a future that didn’t hold Harvick in it.

Knowing what the future didn’t hold for him at RCR, Harvick announced before the 2013 season that it would be his last driving for Childress and he would jump to Stewart Haas Racing in 2014.

Harvick has been involved in plenty of wrecks in his career, but few have seen him get so, well, personal in the verbal venom he spewed.

“Exactly the reason why I’m leaving RCR because you’ve got those kids coming up and they’ve got no respect for what they do in this sport and they’ve had everything fed to them with a spoon,” Harvick said at the time.

“So I cut him slack all day and, you know, he just dive-bombs me in there, dumps me. … It’s a shame you’ve got to get taken out by some rich kid like that.”

The resulting response wasn’t surprising.

An angry Childress shot back at Harvick, saying, “I’m very disappointed , that’s all I can say. I’ve got too much class to say what I want to say right now. When I say it, I will say it to his face.”

Then came Ty’s turn.

“I don’t care what Kevin Harvick says,” Dillon said. “I don’t think anybody does. … I’m pretty disappointed in the things that just went down. I used to look up to that guy (Harvick).”

Then came Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the 22-year-old Ty let his actions do the talking for him, earning his first career NNS win.

Not only did Dillon win, he beat five Sprint Cup regulars to the finish line, including Kyle Busch (runner-up), Matt Kenseth (finished third), Joey Logano (fifth), Paul Menard (sixth) … and Harvick himself in fourth place.

To his credit, while Saturday would have been a perfect place to get back at Harvick with some choice comments of his own, Dillon took the high road.

Not a peep was mentioned about Harvick or last year’s unsavory incident – when Dillon very easily could have.

But as Dillon crossed the finish line, you have to wonder if maybe he looked and saw Harvick in his rearview mirror, three cars back, and thought to himself, “Look who just got punked now.”

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Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.