By admin | February 3, 2014
By Richard Allen
The first time I ever saw Austin Dillon race was on the high banked Volunteer Speedway, a third-mile dirt track in Bulls Gap, Tenn. And I came away from that event somewhat unimpressed as the grandson of famed NASCAR team owner Richard Childress failed to make the starting lineup for the feature event that night. However, I have witnessed a significant improvement in this driver’s skills since then and believe he has the ability needed to be successful at NASCAR’s highest level.
As a matter of fact, just two years after his failure to make the show at Bulls Gap, I watched as Dillon scored a victory in a dirt late model at the Wythe Raceway in Virginia against some of the toughest competition in the South. And as is well known, Dillon has won championships in the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series during his development as a driver.
It is my belief that his being allowed to endure those previously mentioned hard knocks early in his career have and will continue to serve Dillon well throughout his racing life.
Dillon’s father Mike, along with Childress, carefully plotted a racing path for Austin and his younger brother Ty that has had them build their way up from bull ring dirt tracks to NASCAR’s highest levels so that they would have the experience necessary to compete sooner than most young drivers once they reached Sprint Cup.
“My grandfather and everyone at RCR have done a great job of not pushing me too quickly into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series,” Dillon said after being officially named the driver of the #3 Chevrolet last year. “I feel like I’ve been able to spend adequate time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series preparing for this next step in my career.”
While much of the talk surrounding Dillon’s move to Sprint Cup has centered around the fact that he will be the first driver to campaign the #3 in NASCAR’s top division since the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in 2001, the question that truly matters is whether or not he can compete. I believe the answer to that question will be a yes.
The young man’s record speaks for itself. He has won at every level and against top competition. However, like every other rookie, it is unlikely that the wins and the consistency needed to race for a championship will come immediately, even with the careful grooming that has taken place. As stated in this preview piece, RCR has some issues that need to be worked out before any driver can be considered a serious threat week in and week out.
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