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Magic Memories of 2014 Indiana 250 Win Breed Confidence for T. Dillon at IMS

When Ty Dillon drives through the tunnel at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the NASCAR race weekend Sept. 4-8, he will be hit with a wave of emotions.

There will be more emotions than just the special feeling race car drivers get when they arrive at “The Racing Capital of the World.” This feeling is confidence.

IMS is home to Dillon’s first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win. He claimed the 2014 Indiana 250 with his grandfather Richard Childress – a NASCAR Hall of Famer and three-time Brickyard 400 winner as a team owner -- nervously watching from atop the Pagoda and his brother Austin Dillon anxiously sitting alone in the grandstands.

The win was more than a first career victory for Ty Dillon. It was a race that proved he belonged. That he could compete with the best. Dillon earned his victory on a restart with 24 laps to go. He outmuscled two-time Brickyard 400 winner and 2015 Cup Series champion Kyle Busch and held him off to the finish.

“For me, it set the tone as far as my confidence and what I believe I can get done,” Dillon said. “You always have the confidence that you feel like you can compete with the best. To come to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where only the best of the best have ever won here and to go head-to-head on a restart with Kyle Busch, who to this day is the best driver in this sport, on a restart to hold on to win my first race, that’s a moment of confidence that I will never forget, one that I still rely on to this day to remind myself that I can beat the best on any given day with the right situation.”

Dillon has continued to carry that sense of belonging and confidence. It’s what keeps him going now through the good days and bad as he drives the No. 13 Geico Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Add the confidence a driver has when returning to a track where they’ve won, and Dillon has an extra pep in his step as he prepares for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line on Sept. 8 at IMS.

“Every time I come here, I feel like I have a little head up on the competition because I know what it’s like to go to Victory Lane here and have the feel of a car that can win here,” he said. “I’ve not yet had it in the Cup Series, but I know what to look for. When you’ve been to Victory Lane somewhere, it’s hard to describe the difference you have walking around that track, making laps and the confidence in your speech when talking about what your car needs.”

While Dillon is excited for the Brickyard, he insists the race is a big unknown. With NASCAR’s new aerodynamic package that uses less horsepower and more downforce, Dillon said he doesn’t know what to expect. He does know the key to success will be to make the 5/8th-mile straightaways as long as possible. That means navigating Turns 1 and 3 perfectly so he can be full throttle in Turns 2 and 4 and get a great run down the front and back straightaways.

“We’re learning how to use the draft on restarts on these long straightaways, so that’s getting a little more comfortable,” he said. “You’re trying to make these long straightaways as long as you can, because that’s where all your momentum is going to be made and where the passes are going to happen. But knowing what it’s going to take to have a dominant car or a winning car, nobody knows.”

Dillon’s 2019 season is already better than his sophomore Cup season in 2018. He has more top-five finishes, more top-10s and has led more laps. He attributes the success to learning from his mistakes in 2018 after a successful rookie year in 2017 with Germain Racing, the team for which he has driven in all three of his Cup seasons.

“I think it’s all been growth from the beginning,” he said. “Sometimes growth isn’t always straight up. Our first year was really successful for what we wanted to accomplish. This past year was a little bit of a disappointment for our standards, but we learned a lot and made a lot of changes that have showed up this year.”

Dillon will take to the track for practice Saturday, Sept. 7 before he qualifies and races in the Big Machine Vodka 400 on Sunday, Sept. 8. For race week tickets, including for the Driven2SaveLives BC39, Indiana 250, FGL Fest and the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard, visit ims.com.

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