Scanner Chatter: Ty Dillon and Dylan Kwasniewsky raise money and will race for money in Atlanta
Leading up to the Labor Day race weekend, Atlanta Motor Speedway hosted two events Tuesday. The first saw Georgia Governor Nathan Deal address attendees of the Speedway Children's Charities' "Governor's Lunch" at the Hampton, Georgia track. The event benefited Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Gov. Deal spoke of his time as a juvenile court judge and the tough decisions he had to make about the welfare of children. Then AMS President and General Manager Ed Clark took the stage to proclaim the day and the event the official start of "Race Month" for the forthcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 on August 31st. Lunchgoers then got the opportunity to take their cars on a slow lap around AMS' 1.5-mile surface.
That evening also saw an event benefiting Speedway Children's Charities. NASCAR Nationwide Series rookies Ty Dillon and Dylan Kwasniewsky met with fans and the media at STATS in Downtown Atlanta. Their object was to assist waitresses at their tables and hustle diners for tips (which went to the SCC fund) - and see who raised the most. In between orders at different tables, each driver did interviews and helped promote the August 30th Great Clips 300 To Benefit Feed the Children Nationwide Series race at AMS.
Ty Dillon, who drives the No. 3 Yuengling Chevy for Richard Childress Racing, sits 3rd in the Nationwide Series standings, 12 points back of fellow rookie and Georgia driver Chase Elliott. While he's from North Carolina, just like his grandfather and team owner Richard Childress, Dillon has some experience from his childhood at AMS - and he loves the Atlanta Braves. That makes the fact that his Sprint Cup Series debut will be at this year's AMS race very fitting.
"Atlanta's been a place that I have watched so many races when I was a kid," Dillon tells WSB. "Then I would come down here every Thursday night for the shootout with my Legends and Bandoleros and then got my first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win here also. I haven't been here in the two years since then. But my Cup debut is gonna be huge for me and I'm also coming back with a Nationwide car. I feel like it is a place we can win."
Dillon has one NNS win this season - the recent race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - and hopes to cash in some good finishes and win the NNS championship. His older brother Austin (now a Sprint Cup Series rookie) took the title last season.
Turner Scott Motorsports' Kwasniewsky has had a bumpy rookie campaign, several times losing good finishes to crashes caused by over-driving the car. He sits 12th in points, with only two top 10 finishes in 21 races, nine on the lead lap, and an average finish of 18.9. While Dillon grew up at these same racetracks with his family, Kwasniewsky, a Las Vegas, Nevada native, saw a whole different set of racetracks growing up and had to move to the east coast at the end of his high school senior year to pursue a NASCAR career. At just 19 years-old-now, he already was the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West title winner and won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East crown last season after his big move. Now with over a half a season of the NNS under his belt, Atlanta and Mid-Ohio are the only two tracks left that he has yet to run.
"They say [AMS] a lot of fun," says Kwansiewski, beaming with optimism. You've really gotta wheel the car, because you don't have too much traction. I'm looking forward to it."
Kwasniewski says he leans on teammate and fellow west coast transplant Kyle Larson for help in adjusting to the race tracks and also races new tracks on racing simulators.
Dillon and his brother Austin have spent considerable time polishing their trade in dirt cars and even own their own dirt racing team. So Dillon has an insightful view of the tragedy that claimed the life of sprint car racer Kevin Ward Jr., when the right-rear tire on NASCAR champ Tony Stewart's sprint car clipped him as he stood outside of his wrecked race car at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York last Saturday night.
"It'll raise everybody's eyebrows about getting out of a racecar and I think it should. Hopefully something good will come out of this dark time."
Could the good coming out of the tragedy be a NASCAR mandate that drivers have to stay in or close to their cars after a wreck?
"I don't think it needs to be a certain rule, but it'll open up people's eyes at least where you don't need to be getting out of your car and at least walking away from your car and into oncoming traffic." Dillon continued, "It happens so often where drivers get mad at each other - it happened in the Nationwide race [at Walkins Glen] that day. I'm sure I've done it and it opened my eyes. It's an unfortunate situation and we have heavy hearts for the Ward family."
Despite his rookie NNS status, Dillon's analysis proves his racing wisdom and pedigree and shares the same sorrow the rest of the racing community feels for the Ward family, but also the same hope for something good and productive to arise.
Hear Ty Dillon's full interview audio with WSB, where he rates his NNS rookie season, talks about handling conflict (including his famous clash with Chase Elliott), and much more.
Hear Dylan Kwasniewsky's full interview audio with WSB, where he also rates his NNS rookie season, talks about adjusting to race tracks, weighs in on the Ward Jr. tragedy, and talks about fans' reactions to his AOL reality series last year.