Ty Dillon’s trying to track down Chase Elliott and Regan Smith in the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. But this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, that won’t be his only job.
In addition to running tonight’s NNS race at AMS, Dillon will also make his Sprint Cup debut Sunday night in the No. 33 Chevrolet for Circle Sport – which has a partnership with his team in the NNS, Richard Childress Racing.
Yesterday, Dillon qualified 29th for Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500. Running with the big dogs is clearly special for Dillon, who dubbed it “a huge moment for me and my career.”
But he doesn’t think that the Cup drive will detract from his NNS focus.
“I think it’s only going to be a positive for my Nationwide program to be in the Cup race this year,” said Dillon, a former winner at AMS in the Camping World Truck Series (2012). “It will slow everything down for me. I hadn’t been here in two years, and the last time I was here, I won.
“I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grip on this race track. The way our Nationwide team is performing right now, I think we have a great opportunity of winning a race and really piling on some points for this championship.”
As for how AMS became the site for his first Cup race, Dillon said that he and grandfather/boss Richard Childress got together at the beginning of the year and picked ‘four or five tracks” where they felt confident about him running well.
“[Atlanta] was one of the tracks on the list,” Dillon said. “We didn’t really talk about it very much during most of the season, and then things kind of came together. Here recently, we got the sponsorship to make things happen.”
Dillon also said that depending on sponsorship, he was hopeful to get a few more Cup starts this year.
“I know we were already planning on hopefully doing some stuff next year,” he said. “This year is kind of an open book…I think it’s wherever my grandfather feels like he can throw me in and we will have a great opportunity.”
But while his future Cup plans remain to be determined, Dillon knows what he has to do on the Nationwide side of things: Shrink the points gap between himself and the two JR Motorsports drivers, Elliott and Smith.
Two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio, a power steering problem relegated Dillon to a 19th-place finish that helped increase his deficit. Dillon recovered last weekend with a fourth at Bristol, but he’s still down 30 points in the standings to Elliott.
“I think we just have to continue to run in the Top-5, and hope for some mistakes from those guys because that is what has put us behind,” Dillon said of the situation. “We were only 12 points out two weeks ago…We have been fast everywhere we just had a couple of mechanical issues.
“We are going to continue to run up front and have opportunities to win the race like we did last week at Bristol and let those guys fold.”