Dillon has previous success at Talladega in the ARCA Racing Series and the Camping World Truck Series, but 2013 marks his first foray on the track in the Nationwide Series. He handled the opportunity like a veteran, although he continually talked about being a rookie in the NASCAR Nationwide series.
“It was a learning process for me the whole time,” Dillon said. “I was able to get with some good guys and push it. You never know what’s going to happen in the race. The guy you hope to be working with is probably not going to be there, so you have to work with everybody and it’s just being able to learn how to use the draft. I haven’t really done too much of the tandem drafting It’s just learning how to do that, do it right and be as efficient at it as is possible. The best learning is during the race, so that’ll be where I’ll really have to do all my learning as a rookie.”
In 2011, Dillon won the pole and led for 50 laps, eventually winning the ARCA Racing Series at Talladega. He continued that success in 2012 by winning the pole and earning a fourth place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series again at Talladega.
Dillon is ineligible for driver points in the Nationwide series, so in the bigger picture finishing first, especially with it only being practice, may not be a big deal. Perhaps Dillon was loose because he feels no pressure to win.
“Talladega has always been good to me,” Dillon said. “We ran really well here last year in the truck race too. I guess we get along well, me and Talladega. I’m really enjoying it. Our Wesco Chevy been fast here in practice, and we were able to put a good lap up tandem drafting with Trevor Bayne. He taught me a lot and it was really cool. I’m enjoying myself and hopefully, our good luck here at Talladega will continue.”
Dillon’s blue No. 33 Camaro produced the best speed of the day at 192.131 mph, and Dillon also had the best time of the day at 49.841 seconds. His tandem draft teammate on the day, Trevor Bayne, finished second on the leaderboard, reaching a speed of 192.127 mph and producing a best lap of 49.842 seconds. Because Bayne is eligible for driver points, he was technically considered the winner of practice.
Dillon understands that racing in the Nationwide series will be unfamiliar territory for him.
“It’ll be a lot different,” he said. “It’s a different style of racing with being able to tandem and you’ve got to do a little bit of pack racing too. So, it’s a little bit of everything. I’m definitely happy to learn, being a rookie for this. If we can start up front, that’d be great. We’re praying for some rain right
While Dillon did well with Bayne as his practice teammate, he would love to have a more familiar face as his tandem partner: his brother, Austin Dillon.
“Hopefully, we can run together and push each other to a win in first and second,” Ty Dillon said. “That would mean so much, not only to our company, but our family. That would be really cool. We work together a lot at practice, so I think we’re going to try to stick together as much as we can.”