Prior to the 2016 racing season, many race fans in the northeast knew of Tyler Dippel, a young kid trying to make it big time in the Super DIRTcar Series. From the age of seven, the Upstate New York driver showed skills on the race track.
2016 was a huge opportunity for Dippel and his family. He made a big step forward, competing full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division. Over the span of the 14-race season, the No. 38 car finished third in the championship standings, winning the second second race of the year for HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks at Mobile International Speedway.
Along with the victory, Dippel posted eight top-10 finishes, leading 124 laps on the season, all coming at Mobile. Running well is something the 16-year-old is accustomed to.
Before his NASCAR career kicked off, Dippel was victorious in Legends cars, Super Late Model Series, PASS National, Pass Southern Series and the Super DIRTcar Series. His first big block modified victory came at the age of 14, the youngest driver to ever win an event.
This past season Dippel raced in a total of 30 to 40 races between the K&N Pro Series East and the Super DIRTcar Series. Prior to the season, he was selected for the NASCAR Next program, highlighting certain drivers and propelling them throughout their career.
While in Charlotte shadowing Cup Series veteran Clint Bowyer last weekend, Dippel talked to Fronstretch regarding NASCAR, goals, his future and much more.
Dustin Albino, Fronstretch.com: Is there anything from the dirt side that can help you in NASCAR?
Tyler Dippel: Definitely because our big block modified has so much power, probably around 850 [horsepower]. When you get in the K&N Pro Series East car, they actually have a lot less horsepower then the dirt cars. It helps you because it feels like everything is moving a little slower because the cars are a little bit heavier. It helps you with the dirt car because your reflexes have to be a little bit quicker.
Albino: In your first full season in a stock car you finished third in the K&N East standings. How would you assess your 2016 season?
Dippel: The season was pretty decent. We picked up a win and had a couple of DNF’s. I had a motor problem one race, broke a transmission going for the lead in another race. I had a lot of flat tires. Overall, I think for the most part the season went well, but just a lot of bad luck hindered us from a lot of the finishes that we should have gotten.
Albino: Do you feel like you overachieved being a rookie?
Dippel: Not really. I think it’s the team. Once you have solid runs the finishes will come. I think we ran pretty well for most of the races where I was on the lead lap at the end. I think this year was pretty good and something to build on.
Albino: Did you have any expectations going into the season?
Dippel: I wanted to win a couple of races going into the season. I just wanted to run really good and be up there in points contending for wins and we ended up winning a race. We finished third in points, so it was pretty good. I would have liked to won another race or two, but it didn’t happen. Overall, we had a solid year.
Albino: Who has helped you the most since joining the NASCAR ranks?
Dippel: My whole team has helped me the most. Whether I’m working with my crew or all the team members giving me advice and being patient with me, it’s helped. They’ve definitely helped me the most.
Albino: How much has Justin Haley helped you since joining HScott Motorsports?
Dippel: He’s been a big help on the road courses because he is a good road course racer. Whenever we went to the road courses, he helped because I had never run on a road course before. He was a big help there and teaching me some basic stuff that I didn’t know and he knew, which benefited me. It was a big help.
Albino: How influential has Harry Scott been on you and your career so far?
Dippel: Harry Scott has helped me through the season. He wasn’t at too many of the races, but he has put a good team together and helped me. All of the teams were solid this year.
Albino: What about Justin Marks?
Dippel: Justin has been good. He’s texted me a few times and gave me some advice. Justin has been really great when he talks to me during the races. He’s been really cool to work with this year.
Albino: How did the original pairing of you coming from the DIRT Series to HScott Motorsports happen?
Dippel: A few close friends orchestrated this deal. One of the ARCA friends was Glenn Sullivan knows Mike Greci [works with Scott and Marks] and they were talking and set the whole thing up. That’s pretty much how it worked out. They took a look at my dirt background and all the stuff that I was racing in before in ARCA and other series. They were talking and I ended up running the full season for them this year.
Albino: With the Cup Series program in question for next year, did you feel more pressure to deliver for Harry?
Dippel: Not really. My one goal is to do the best that I can every time that I am in a racecar, so it didn’t really add any pressure at all.
Albino: Many NASCAR owners and sponsors won’t allow or are cautious of letting their drivers run dirt races. Did that discussion ever come up?
Dippel: No, they weren’t cautious or anything whenever I ran on dirt. They really wanted me to run as many races as I could and get more seat time. It doesn’t matter what you’re in, they just want you to race.
Albino: How much do you think that extra seat time helps even if it’s in another car?
Dippel: I think every time that you are in the seat it makes you a better driver.
Albino: What do you think doing so well this early into your career means for your future?
Dippel: I think doing so well so early means that this kid is adaptable and can get used to other types of cars. We can put him and it’s not going to take him that long to get used to it. They probably think ‘this kid can drive.’
Albino: What is the biggest thing you’ve learned from the NASCAR Next program?
Dippel: Probably a lot of the media training they have us do.
Albino: Does being a part of same class as Harrison Burton, Matt Tifft, Todd Gilliland, Noah Gragson and many others motivate you to out perform them?
Dippel: For sure, definitely. I always want to win.
Albino: Is there a certain guy in that group that you are close to?
Dippel: I would say that I’m closest with Harrison only because he was on my team. When you have your teammate with you the whole year it builds a relationship, so I think he’s the one that I’m closest to.
Albino: Do you know your 2017 NASCAR plans?
Dippel: I don’t know exactly what we are going to do next season. We could run some part-time K&N, part-time ARCA and part-time in the Truck Series. We might be looking at another full year in K&N. We’re still in the decision process, so nothing is for sure yet.
Albino: What would you like to do if it was up to you?
Dippel: I would like to run some part-time K&N, part-time ARCA and part-time in the trucks. I would like to pick and choose the really good races to go to.