BRISTOL — Ty Dillon doesn’t blame anyone forgetting about him being in last year’s Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Driving for an underfunded team in one of four races, the Lewisville, North Carolina, driver started last in the 39-car field and finished 26th, one lap off the pace.
Now, he’s back in the NASCAR Cup Series full-time, driving the No. 42 Chevrolet for Petty GMS Motorsports. Dillon, who raced frequently at nearby tracks — Vol- unteer Speedway and Wythe (Va.) Raceway — in his formative years, is excited for his second chance at the Bristol dirt on April 17.
“It’s nice to have a legit shot at it this year,” Dillon said during a recent visit to BMS. “I’m particularly looking forward to taking advantage of my dirt background, and I’m here with a great team. With the banking on the track, it’s a little bit more racy in the dirt racers’ eyes.”
Although Dillon is still looking for his first top-10 finish with the Petty team, he has been steady with an average finish of 19.8 through the first six races of the season. He ranks 23rd in the point standings, but also looks to match No. 43 and teammate Erik Jones, who has two top-10 runs so far.
“It has been a good start to this year and Erik has had good speed,” Dillon said. “I’ve not had a teammate before to set the standard of where our cars are. That is always helpful. Hopefully, we can continue to grow where we can keep our whole program getting better every week.”
The younger brother of 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon is optimistic that NASCAR’s Next Gen car will be a little better racing on the dirt than the previous Cup Series machine. It’s not a Late Model or Sprint Car, specifically built for the clay surface, but Dillon does like some traits of the new car.
“It has a little better dynamics. The old car was tougher to maneuver around dirt,” Dillon said. “It’s not like a lighter car with massive amounts of travel, but it is a better car for dirt. Not sure how the underbody is going to work through the bumps. It is going to be a possible issue we have to work through.
“Then we have a lot narrower sidewall with the tires. We will have to see how that works out, but we’ve gone through crazier things with this car.”
MUDDY CREEK RACEWAY
After cold weather over the last few weeks, Muddy Creek Raceway gets its season underway this weekend.
The season opener for the Hot Summer Nights Supercross Series is set for Saturday. Sunday is the opener for both the Thor Mega Series and Suzuki Big Classic Series.
Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday. Practice for the Hot Summer Nights Series starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday with racing throughout the day.
CHEROKEE RACE PARK
There is a “budget race” scheduled for the Rogersville drag strip on Saturday.
That means a $25 entry fee for the Pro (Box) and No Box classes and a $20 buyback. The winner of each class wins $800. Transbrakes are allowed. For the Junior Dragsters, it’s just $15 to enter with a $10 buyback.
It’s $10 for spectators. Gates open at 10 a.m. and time trials start at noon.