NASCAR visits the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week for the Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard weekend, and Ty Dillon is returning as the defending champion of the Lilly Diabetes 250. He takes a turn on the Blog to talk about the unforgettable week last year.
One of the most exciting places I’ve ever had an opportunity to compete is Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The technical difficulty of the race track for a stock car is what makes it so unique, the history makes it so prestigious and winning makes it that much more special.
Last July, I had the opportunity to kiss the bricks at one of the most historic venues in all of motorsports. It was incredible, unforgettable, prominent – all of the above. I’m just a young driver from Welcome, North Carolina, but on that July afternoon my team and I were champions.
I think back to when our team visited Victory Lane and remember the most special part was being with my family. It wasn’t having a dominant race car or holding off one of the best drivers in NASCAR in Kyle Busch or celebrating with my team, but being able to give my wife Haley, mom, Tina, dad, Mike, and brother, Austin, a hug in Victory Lane. Then to turn and give my Pop-Pop (Richard Childress) a hug and see how proud he was meant the world to me. He gave me the opportunity to race when I was 13 years old and now we were standing in Victory Lane spraying champagne and Yuengling Light Lager. My good friend Johnny Morris from Bass Pro Shops, who I see almost as a family member, was even there to celebrate. He called it the best day of his life.
It certainly wasn’t easy to win, and I had my work cut out. Several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers were entered in the Lilly Diabetes 300 and it took a great qualifying effort, pit stops and crew chief strategy to win. I remember listening to my dad, who was helping out as a spotter, give me lap times after I took the lead with 24 laps to go. I gave it all I had to hold on to the lead, knowing my family was right there behind me, cheering for me from somewhere in the infield. My dad continued his verbal support over the radio, as he often does. When we finally crossed the finish line, I radioed to my team “I love you guys!” They’ve always been like family to me, too.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway will always have a special place in my heart because it brought my family together to celebrate my first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory. My grandfather, who dreamed of winning races at the Brickyard, had the opportunity to kiss the bricks in 2011 when Paul Menard won the Brickyard 400. After that day, he told me that if we worked hard enough someday we would be able to kiss the bricks and become a champion, too. It’s rewarding to know I helped fulfill his dreams.