2012 Ride: No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
2012 Primary Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
2012 Owner: Richard Childress
2012 Crew Chief: Scott Naset (Feb. – June), Marcus Richmond (July – Nov.)
Stats: 22 starts, 1 win, 7 top 5s, 17 top 10s, 3 poles, 0 DNFs, 4th in points.
Best Finish: 1st – Atlanta.
Average Start: 6.0.
Average Finish: 9.0.
2012 Team Ranking: 2nd of 2. In a nearly dead heat with his teammate Joey Coulter, Dillon comes up just short based on points finish. Both drivers scored one win and three poles, proof of their ability to run up front on a weekly basis. Coulter had one more top 5, but two fewer top 10s as Dillon was more of a consistent title contender. In the end, though Coulter was third in points while Dillon was fourth, based on a late-season slump which relegated the rookie to second best.
High Point: Atlanta. A driver’s first win in a series is always special and that is why it is the high point for Dillon’s 2012 season. Dillon won his first race by making a pass on Kyle Busch on lap 125 of the 130-lap event. Dillon started from the pole and led 40 laps total en route to his first, and so far only, win in the Truck Series. Dillon made more than one pass for the lead on Busch during the course of the event, mixing it up with one of the sport’s top drivers before finally pushing ahead for good in the closing stages.
Low Point: The Kroger 200, at Martinsville this Fall was the undoing of Dillon’s hopes for winning a Truck Series championship. He came into the race with a one-point lead over James Buescher, qualified sixth and looked like he’d battle for the win. Unfortunately, a flat tire and the resulting damage to his truck resulted in Dillon finishing a disappointing 28th, six laps down. It was a 22-point swing in the championship chase and sealed Dillon’s fate for the season; he’d score just one top-5 result the rest of the way. Dillon did win the Rookie of The Year title, going away but that was hardly a consolation prize when you think of what could have been.
Summary: Dillon entered the Camping World Truck Series fresh off a 2011 ARCA series championship. He was climbing behind the wheel of the championship-winning Truck from the previous year, albeit not with the all of the same players in place on the team. But just like his brother, Ty didn’t take long to figure out how to take this Truck Series team to the top. Dillon clawed his way from a ninth-place finish, in the season-opening race at Daytona to the points lead after Michigan in August. He immediately slipped back to third after a 21st-place run at Bristol but was back in the top spot after Iowa in September. He held the lead until that day in Martinsville (see above) which put an end to his title hopes. Dillon finished the year with a 15th and two finishes of 25th or worse in the last four races to limp to the finish line.
At Homestead, the season ender Dillon did put forth a valiant effort to chase down Buescher. Running a smart race, inside the top 5 while Buescher struggled he had an opportunity to steal the win in the closing stages. But while battling for a spot with Kyle Larson, another young driver the two made contact entering Turn 3 and wrecked Dillon out of contention. If not for that fateful moment, we could be talking about your first rookie champion in Truck Series history.
2013 Outlook: The script has been written for the No. 3 team in the Camping World Truck Series before. Austin Dillon won Rookie of The Year in his first season, finishing fifth in points. He went on to take the championship home in his second season. Ty has the Rookie of The Year in the trophy case; now, it is time for him to win the title. James Buescher is returning to defend his championship, so the task will not be an easy one. However, with RCR resources behind the effort, Dillon will have everything he needs to take home the big prize in Homestead.
2012 Frontstretch.com Grade: A-. Dillon was well on his way to an A+ season until his misfortune at Martinsville. The wheels all but fell off from there, as Dillon slipped to fourth in the final standings. He is already a proven champion, having won the 2011 ARCA title, so he knows how to seal the deal, as do most of the people on the No. 3 Truck. Expect this team to come out hot in 2013 and not look back. Turner Motorsports will keep them honest, but the No. 3 Truck is going to be in or near the top spot in points all year long.
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