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NASCAR in Joliet: Austin Dillon racing up the ranks

AustDillon.  |  Getty Images

Austin Dillon. | Getty Images

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RALLY, RACE AND ROCK

When: Friday through Sunday

Where: Chicagoland Speedway, Laraway Road and Route 53, Joliet

FRIDAY

Traxxas TORC Series dirt-track racing at the Route 66 Raceway dirt-track oval, 7 p.m. Weekend kick-off party at the Route 66 Raceway, 5 to 7 p.m.

SATURDAY

NASCAR Nationwide practice, 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

ARCA practice, 4:10 p.m.

Traxxas TORC Series dirt-track racing, 7 p.m.

SUNDAY

NASCAR Nationwide qualifying, 10:05 a.m. (ESPN2)

ARCA qualifying, noon

STP 300 driver introductions, 1:30 p.m.

STP 300, 2 p.m. (ESPN)

ARCA driver introductions, approximately 4:30 p.m.

ARCA race, approximately 5 p.m.(Speed)

Also: Classic car show in Champions Park, 8 a.m.; Marty Casey and The Lovehammers concert, noon

Tickets: STP 300 tickets can be bought in advance and start at $30 for adults, kids are $25 off regular full-price admission. Tickets can be purchased on race day starting at $35. Traxxas TORC Series $20, kids 12 and younger $10. Parking is free. For tickets, visit www.chicagolandspeedway.com or call (888) 629-7223.

Updated: August 19, 2013 3:49PM



Austin Dillon’s trademark is a cowboy hat. Most drivers wear baseball hats around the garage area, but Dillon always is noticeable as the guy with his signature headgear.

It must be his good luck charm.

Dillon is third in the NASCAR Nationwide standings, 12 points behind leader Regan Smith and seven behind second-place Sam Hornish Jr.

When Dillon rolls his No. 2 AdvoCare Chevrolet into Chicagoland Speedway for Sunday’s STP 300 Nationwide race, Dillon will try to move up in the standings and begin a busy week. He also is part of NASCAR’s Dash For Cash program, in which he’s eligible for a $100,000 bonus.

Dillon will have four races in eight days: the STP 300, the inaugural Camping World Truck series race Wednesday on Eldora Speedway’s dirt track in New Weston, Ohio, and the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races July 27 and 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dillon’s start in the July 28 Brickyard 400 will be his first career Sprint Cup start at Indy.

Dillon enjoys the hectic lifestyle at this point in his career and all the expectations that come with it. His grandfather, Richard Childress, also is his boss at Richard Childress Racing. Dillon’s brother, Ty, is an RCR teammate.

“You always have challenges and peaks and valleys, (but) being able to ride the low parts and being able to come back out on top at the end is what makes guys really good,” Dillon said. “I think setting goals is very important, having realistic goals that you can go out and capture, and then challenging yourself, too. I’m a very competitive person, and I have some great people around me. I’m very fortunate to have guys who are around me to push me.”

An even bigger part of Dillon’s career is the possibility of running in the Sprint Cup series sooner rather than later. It’s always a big deal for a Nationwide driver to make that jump, but for Dillon there’s even more at stake in the eyes of many devotees of the sport.

The late Dale Earnhardt drove his No. 3 Chevrolet for RCR and won the 1998 Daytona 500. Three years later, Earnhardt was killed on the final lap of the Great American Race.

Dillon said he will race the No. 33 car in the Brickyard 400. But if Dillon does run a Cup schedule in 2014, he could be in Earnhardt’s No. 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has supported the idea.

It would seem Dillon is destined to have a long and successful career, based on his bloodlines and how long he has been around the sport. He isn’t taking any of those advantages for granted.

“Even with the resources (at RCR), I had bad days,” Dillon said. “The first race of my career in Daytona, in the truck series, I hit the wall in lap one. You look back at the bad days and you’ve got to be able to come out and be a better person and learn from your mistakes.

“I think I’ve had days where I feel like I can go race with (more experienced) guys, and then you’ve got days where you’re like, ‘Wow, this is tough,’ ” Dillon said. “But you’ve just got to go out there and have confidence, and go show them you can do it and prove yourself each and every week.”



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