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.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

IMSA: Rolex 24 Team Preview – GTLM

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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MotorSportsTalk’s Kyle Lavigne continues the team preview of entries for the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona with the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. At nine entries, it is the smallest of the three classes entered in this weekend’s Rolex 24 and down from last year’s 11 entries, but past events indicate it may be the event’s most competitive class.

The 2017 Rolex 24 saw four different marques from four different teams battling for the GTLM win late in the race, with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing taking the win with Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais. And in 2016, Corvette Racing saw its No. 3 and 4 entries duel to the checkered flag, with Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, and Marcel Fassler victorious in the No. 4 machine.

Below is a breakdown of the teams entered in the GTLM class.

Corvette Racing
Car: Corvette C7.R
No. 3 (Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Mike Rockenfeller)
No. 4 (Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler)

Outlook: Corvette Racing has been a perennial powerhouse in GT racing over the entirety of the 21st century, and that isn’t something that’s likely to change. Coming off their 13th championship last year – Garcia and Magnussen took home last year’s GTLM driver’s crown – Corvette Racing now hunts for its fourth Rolex 24 triumph.

With an unchanged package that is proven to be both fast and reliable, Corvette Racing looks set to again feature prominently in the GTLM battle. Barring problems, both cars should be battling up front for the win.

BMW Team RLL
Car: BMW M8 GTLM
No. 24 (Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus)
No. 25 (Alexander Sims, Connor De Phillippi, Bill Auberlen, Philipp Eng)

Outlook: Of all the GTLM entries, BMW Team RLL sees by far the most change to its program. Out is the M6 GTLM and in is the brand new M8 GTLM. Jesse Krohn, Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus, Philipp Eng and Connor De Phillippi are all new drivers to the team, while veteran Bill Auberlen will only contest the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events in 2018.

At the Roar Before the 24, the program appeared to lack speed. Sunday qualifying, to decide pit stall and garage selection, saw the No. 25 qualify the better of the two BMWs, but one second slower than the next quickest car – the BMW set a 1:45.056 for seventh in GTLM, behind the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, which set a 1:44.037.

It remains to be seen if there is more speed in the BMW machines, but they remain the most unproven of the GTLM entries. A victory seems out of reach at the moment, but that could change if the package improves.

Risi Competizione
Car: Ferrari 488 GTE
No. 62 (Toni Vilander, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Davide Rigon)

Outlook: Risi Competizione came excruciatingly close to winning last year’s Rolex, but a late-race battle between James Calado and Dirk Mueller, of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, saw Mueller come out on top, while Calado was shuffled back to third by the time the checkered flag fell.

They did not win an event last year, but this is a team that knows how to win big races – they have previously won the Motul Petit Le Mans – and should once again prove to be a major player in the GTLM battle.

The only major change comes in their driver lineup, with Alessandro Pier Guidi and David Rigon joining the lineup and Giancarlo Fisichella departing. But, with Calado and Toni Vilander returning to anchor the driving team, this change is not expected to slow the team down. Expect them to battle at the front all race long.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
Car: Ford GT
No. 66 (Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller, Sebastien Bourdais)
No. 67 (Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon)

Outlook: Ford Chip Ganassi Racing returns to the Rolex 24 as defending race winners – Hand, Mueller, and Bourdais delivered the victory in 2017. Further, they return with the same driver lineups and car they used. In short, every indication is that they enter this year’s event as favorites to repeat.

The Roar Before the 24 gave further evidence of this. Both of the cars were among the quickest in every session at the Roar, and Sunday qualifying saw its No. 66 end up at the top of the board, with the No. 67 in third.

The GTLM field is strong all the way around, but this team is likely the favorite entering the event.

Porsche GT Team
Car: Porsche 911 RSR

No. 911 (Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Frederic Makowiecki)
No. 912 (Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber, Gianmaria Bruni)

Outlook: Porsche GT Team brings with it a star-studded driver lineup that features former class winners of the Rolex 24, former overall winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a ton of all-around talent.

The team finished a close second at last year’s Rolex 24, with the No. 911 entry, behind the race-winning Ford from Chip Ganassi’s stable. Later that year, they visited victory lane – Porsche finished 1-2 at Lime Rock Park, with the No. 911 taking the victory – proving that the mid-engine 911 RSR is more than up to the task and gives the team everything they need to be contenders.

Porsche will have a fight on their hands, but this is a team that expects to compete for a victory, and they did win this event in 2014. They round out a titanic GTLM grid and should be a fixture throughout the day.

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