By: Jeff Wackerlin – @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on May 4, 2017 | 2:50 P.M. EST
Dillon: “I started looking back, when my grandfather was inducted into the Hall of Fame, at some of his pictures and the first one I saw was him in the No. 13. It’s cool to stay connected to my grandfather’s career.” (Photo: Getty Images)
Talladega Superspeedway has always been special to Ty Dillon, but this weekend’s GEICO 500 will be even more special for the Germain Racing rookie.
Dillon will make his first official start at Talladega in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driving the same number his grandfather and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Childress drove in his first Cup Series start at the 2.66-mile oval in 1969.
“I started looking back, when my grandfather was inducted into the Hall of Fame, at some of his pictures and the first one I saw was him in the No. 13,” Dillon said. “It’s cool to stay connected to my grandfather’s career.”
Childress competed in the race when he, along with other drivers, were asked by Bill France Sr. after top NASCAR drivers scheduled to race withdrew, citing high speeds and the possibility of tire failures. He finished 23rd and used the prize money to help build his first race shop. The Talladega start was Childress’ only one in the No. 13 and he would go on to compete in 284 more races. He has 12 Cup wins as a car owner at Talladega, nine of them coming with Dale Earnhardt.
“That shop was on Highway 109 and it was 4,000 square feet in Davidson County (N.C.),” Childress said. “I knew that if I didn’t get out of the car, it was going to get tougher and tougher seeing all the new money coming in, and the opportunity was there with Dale. We put that deal together in Anniston-Oxford, Ala.”
Talladega is also special to Dillon because he won there in the ARCA Series in 2011 with Richard Childress Racing en route to capturing the championship. He’s also spent time racing at the nearby Talladega Short Track.
“Our family has a lot of history at Talladega and I’ve been there for a lot of races myself,” Dillon said. “If we were able to win at Talladega it would mean a whole lot. It’s an exciting place. Beyond all the history our family has there, it’s got special meaning to me, too.”
Dillon did compete at Talladega in this event last year but didn’t get credit for the sixth-place finish because he relieved Tony Stewart in the No. 14 for Stewart-Haas Racing on Lap 53. This year, Dillon will be carrying the race entitlement sponsor, GEICO, on his Germain Racing Chevrolet. He had a good car in the Daytona 500 in his first start with the team but got swept up in two separate accidents.
“We had a strong run going at Daytona,” Dillon said. “We were fast in every aspect every time we were on the racetrack and we were running up front during the race and got caught up in a couple crashes.”
Coming into the 10th race of the Cup Series season, Dillon ranks third in the Rookie of the Year standings, eight points behind leader Daniel Suarez.
This weekend Dillon will pull double duty again, driving the No. 3 Bass Pro Chops Chevrolet for RCR in the XFINITY Series race.
“We had a fast Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet in Daytona, but we ran out of gas at the end and took ourselves out,” Dillon said. “There’s really only so much that you can do to protect yourself there. You’ve got to stay out of all the crashes and be there at the end of the race. Hopefully there’s not as much melee in Talladega as there was at Daytona this year. All you can do at the superspeedways to have a shot at making a winning move on the last lap is survive.”