Austin Dillon has been headlining lists of top NASCAR prospects for a couple years now, and the early returns show nothing but a rapidly filling reservoir of untapped potential. Coming from a lineage of veritable NASCAR royalty – his grandfather is the legendary Richard Childress, his father is former NASCAR racer and current RCR General Manager Mike Dillon – Austin certainly has been primed for future success from an extremely young age, but his results in his first few years of organized competition prove that it is far more than mere nepotism that is thrusting young Dillon into the spotlight.
Despite his early success, Dillon and his handlers are taking a cautious approach when it comes to moving up the NASCAR ladder – evidentially hoping to learn something from the plights of recent racecar phenoms such as Joey Logano, who was rushed up to full-time Sprint Cup competition as a teenager amid much fanfare, but who has yet to find much success through four seasons driving the #20 Home Depot Toyota.
Dillon first gained attention as a rising star in 2008, after his performance in the K&N Pro Series East Series, a developmental circuit sanctioned by NASCAR, earned him a couple of starts in the Nationwide Series – one of which he cashed in for a fourth place finish.
By 2010, Dillon was racing full time in the Camping World Truck Series, where he earned his first NASCAR victory and was named the series’ Rookie of the Year following a season where he put up two wins, seven top 5s, and 16 top ten finishes. For an encore, Dillon returned to the Truck Series in 2011 and won the championship, and also earned a start in the biggest of the big leagues, the Sprint Cup Series.Soon after it was announced that not only would Dillon be moving up to the Nationwide Series in 2012, but he would have the honor of driving the #3 car that racecar legend Dale Earnhardt made famous.
Dillon’s performance in the Nationwide Series thus far has only fueled speculation that he will soon be joining the big boys in the Sprint Cup Series. He recorded his first Nationwide win in June (though his car failed a post-race inspection) and currently sits at #4 in the standings.
Despite this success and the fact that he is part of a family that can only be described as NASCAR royalty – his grandfather is Richard Childress – it was recently announced that Dillon will be returning to the Nationwide Series in 2013. He will, however, be competing in a handful of Sprint Cup races next year and if he continues to build on his success, we can anticipate him competing for spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship as early as 2014. And, interestingly enough, he may be joined soon after by his younger brother Ty, who has been competing admirably in the Truck Series this year.
After jumpstarting one NASCAR family dynasty — the Earnhardts — Richard Childress just might be doing it again, this time with his own grandsons.
Article contributed by Jack Payton
The NASCAR Nationwide Series opened with a thrills and spills filled DRIVE4COPD 300, held at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, 25 February 2012. The race kicked off with a field of 43, only six of which made it through unmarred. James Buescher managed to maneuver through a large 11-car pile-up and went on to win the opener. Buescher was followed home by Brad Keselowski in second and Elliott Sadler in third place.
Through much of the race on Saturday, Buescher didn’t appear to have a very good chance of winning. Coming around the last turn in 11th place, he was met by a substantial wreck. The mess is said to have been caused when Kurt Busch tried to block some other cars, while various other drivers were putting pressure on each other. It quickly turned into a mass of spinning cars, including those driven by Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Buescher managed to clear the tangle in his No. 30 FOE Chevrolet and race on to victory. This was Buescher’s first NASCAR win.
Another accident that left racegoers disappointed was Danica Patrick’s wreck on her 49th lap. She began in pole position and was looking good when her teammate Cole Whitt from JR Motorsports ran into the back of her vehicle while he was bump-drafting. This caused Patrick’s car to spin into the wall and then back onto the track. She was, however, able to rejoin the race, but could only make it to 38th position. This is set to be Danica Patrick’s first full Nationwide Series season.
A storm hitting Daytona International Speedway resulted in the postponement of the popular Daytona 500 scheduled for Sunday, 26 February. The race has been rescheduled to take place on Monday, 27 February at noon. This is the first time in the history of the race that it has had to move to another day. The Daytona 500 will kick off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which consists of 10 events. Despite delays, it is set to be an exciting race that fans won’t want to miss!
Saturday the 20th of August 2011 was a big day for Marcos Ambrose as he took on the NAPA Auto Parts 200, which forms part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series and was held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. In Ambrose’s case it is fifth time lucky, as he put the failures of his past tries behind him to race to victory, which did not come easy at all. But it was none-the-less a moment Ambrose will never forget, as seeing the checkered flag was the moment he had been waiting for, for a very long time at this course.
Getting to the race was a rush for Ambrose, as he left Michigan International Speedway, where the NASCAR Sprint Cup was hosted, hopped on a jet, took a helicopter ride to St Hubert, and then jumped into a speedboat to cross the Olympic Basin to make the race on time. Not only was it rush to get to the racecourse, but Ambrose also had to survive a collision with Jacques Villeneuve, before he could focus on his winning performance and secure the victory.
Because Ambrose and drivers Carl Edwards and Trevor Bayne were needed to participate in Cup practice, they had to use reserve drivers to do their qualifiers for them, placing all three drivers at the back of the field. The course was filled with a field of forty-three cars. Twice Ambrose had to fight his way through the field, even though he was able to pass a staggering sixteen cars on the first lap and managed to get into the top twenty before the sixth lap, when he pitted for the first time. It was an accident filled race, with no less than six caution flags (yellow flags) making their appearance. The race had everyone, pit crews and spectators, on the edges of their seats as the action packed race unfolded before them.
But it was Marcos Ambrose who managed to take the victory, followed across the finish line by Alex Tagliani in second place, and Michael McDowell in third place. Ambrose commented after the race that he was never able to close the deal before, but he remained patient and calm throughout the race, which enabled him and his team to convert his efforts into a winning performance and that it felt really good to finally win the race that had eluded him for so long.
Owned by Gene Haas and Tony Stewart, and based in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Stewart Haas Racing is a NASCAR Sprint Cup race team, running the #14 Office Depot Chevrolet Impala, driven by Tony Stewart, as well as the #39 United States Army Chevrolet Impala, driven by Ryan Newman. Technical support is supplied to the team by Hendrick Motorsports – also a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor. As the name would suggest, the primary sponsor for the #14 car is Office Depot, with additional sponsorship provided by Old Spice and Burger King. The #39 car is sponsored by the US Army, Tornados and Haas Automation.
Gene Haas is the founder and sole owner of Haas Automation, the largest machine tool manufacturer in the US. He was also the founder of the NASCAR race team, Haas CNC Racing, back in 2002. Working as a single car team, Haas CNC Racing entered the Nextel Cup (the predecessor of the Sprint Cup), with the team’s first race taking place on September 30, 2002. The team’s driver at the time was Jack Sprague, and he finished 35th after being involved in a crash during the race. After racing sporadically in the following years, the team moved to Kannapolis in 2006 and started fielding a second car, making its presence known on the NASCAR scene.
In late 2008 it was announced that Haas CNC Racing would join forces with Tony Stewart to form Stewart-Haas Racing, and this took place in January 2009. Tony Stewart notched up the first win for the new team in May 2009, when he took first place in the All-Star race. With an impressive list of achievements, Tony Stewart has been referred to as “one of the finest racers of his generation” in an article appearing in the New York Times in 2008. By March 2010, Stewart had competed in 40 races, with four wins, 15 top-fives, 25 top-tens and one DNF.
The second driver in the team, Ryan Newman, is certainly not short on talent having achieved 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup wins in his racing career, as well as having 7 Nationwide Series wins and one Camping World Truck Series win. With a degree in vehicle structure engineering, and his hobbies including driving and working on vintage cars, Newman is certainly dedicated to the exciting world of auto racing. Fans will no doubt be watching with keen interest as Stewart-Haas Racing tackles the 2010 season, their second as a team.
Following the cancellation of the Milwaukee Mile race on the NASCAR Nationwide Series calendar, it was decided to keep the event in Wisconsin and to hold it at the Road America track. Set to take place on 19 June 2010, it has been nine years since the last NASCAR event took place on the road course and it is set to be a thrilling occasion.
Located near to Elkhart Lake, Road America is currently host to the AMA Superbike series, American Le Mans, SCCA Speed World Challenge Series and other events. The track is 4.048 miles (6.515 km) long and boasts 14 turns. It is known for its numerous changes in elevation, as well as a renowned turn on the backside called “the kink”. The Road America track also features a long front stretch that allows drivers to reach speeds near to 200 mph.
Visitors to the Road America track can make use of grandstands and hillside seating, though the seating is open and spectators may move about through the area. There are 13 concession stands, as well as place for RVs and camping. Spectators are sure to enjoy the 640 acre facility and park-like atmosphere.
NASCAR fans, drivers and organizers are eager about the move and are looking forward to the 200-mil, 50-lap race. The first NASCAR-sanctioned race took place at Road America when the track was just a year old on 12 August 1956, and was won by Tim Flock. The track has a reputation for excitement and this is sure to draw the crowds. Strategy is vital when racing at Road America, testing driver skill to the max. With the addition of Road America to the calendar, NASCAR Nationwide teams now have two permanent road courses as well as a temporary circuit to contend with; the others being Watkins Glen International and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. NASCAR teams racing at Road America will be allowed an added full day of practice on 17 June, before the official on-track activity begins on 18 June.
Be sure to get your ticket well in advance so as not to miss this exhilarating event!