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

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”