Monday, February 19, 2018

COMMENTARY: Time For Dillon Bashers To Call It A Day

Perhaps now, Austin Dillon will finally get the respect he’s due.

The Welcome, NC native, grandson of legendary NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, has spent most of his adult life dodging allegations of nepotism leveled by those who believe his place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series owes more to genetics than talent.

“Born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” they say. “Born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.”

Those critics willfully ignore the dozens of formative wins Dillon claimed on dirt tracks across the south.

They discount his seven Camping World Truck Series victories and his 2011 Truck Series championship.

They overlook his eight NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and the 2013 title.

None of that matters, they say. It’s nothing more than a handout from a deep-pockets team owner to his spoiled, rich-kid grandson.

In the aftermath of Sunday night’s career-defining victory in the 60th annual Daytona 500, it may finally be time for the Dillon bashers to pipe down.

Dillon’s Daytona win was his second as a MENCS driver. The first -- in last year's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway – was a fuel-mileage win, allowing the critics to persist in their view that Dillon had not earned his place at the NASCAR table. But with wins in two of the sport’s most prestigious events now on his resume, the outgoing Dillon has all the ammunition he needs to tune-out the Negative Nellies, once and for all.
"I did what I had to do there at the end," said Dillon of a chaotic final lap that saw leader Aric Almirola spin after attempting to block Dillon’s fast-closing Dow Chevrolet in Turn Three. "I hate it for (Almirola's) guys. We had a run, and I stayed in the gas. It is what it is here at Daytona.”
While some viewed Dillon’s last-lap tactics as underhanded, Almirola was not among them.
"It was the last lap and we're all trying to win the Daytona 500," he said, after limping his damaged racer home in a disappointing 11th-place. "It's the biggest race of the year and it's a career-changing race, so we were racing really aggressively. I used every move I knew to try and stay in the lead. Unfortunately, I just wasn't able to hold on.
"I saw him come with the momentum, and I pulled up to block and did exactly what I needed to do to try to win the Daytona 500. I wasn't going to just let him have it. He got to my back bumper and was pushing and just hooked me. He's not driving too aggressively, he's trying to win the Daytona 500, just like I was.”
Dillon acknowledged his critics during a raucous Victory Lane celebration, saying, "My grandfather has done everything for me. Everybody knows it. There is a lot of pressure on me to perform… but I like that pressure. The same with the No. 3. There is a lot of pressure behind that.
"But I'm willing to take that and go with it. I'm just thankful for all the people that support us along the way; Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family for letting us bring this number back. It comes full circle. I just can't thank the Lord enough for this opportunity."
Sunday’s Daytona 500 triumph – authored 20 years to the day after the legendary Dale Earnhardt, Sr. drove Childress’ iconic No. 3 to Victory Lane in the Great American Race – should be enough to finally extinguish the bonfire of second-guessing that has plagued Dillon from Day One.

Sure, “Pop Pop” has provided the best possible equipment to both of his racing grandsons over the years. But what grandparent would do anything less? Don’t we all devote every resource at our disposal to help our children and grandchildren succeed in their lives and careers? Devotion to family should be applauded, not condemned.

A driver who has now won major races in all three NASCAR National Series – and championships in two of them – deserves better treatment than Dillon has received to date from the sport’s often-overcritical railbirds.
Austin Dillon has earned his place. At a level of the sport where every top contender enjoys world-class equipment and technological support, Dillon has won races. 
The records do not lie.
And as Dillon posed for a series of celebratory photos with his jubilant team and the Harley J. Earl Trophy Sunday night, he had the satisfied look of a man who had finally answered his critics.
Silver Spoons no longer required.


  1. Hated the move. Hated the block that started the whole thing. Glad Aric isn't dead like that Dale guy a few years ago. Driving through someone at 196 MPH isn't a good thing but as long as it looks exciting, who gives a shit. We'll handle the carnage later. Long time NASCAR fan but speedway racing is cool up to the point of all the blocking and wrecking. Enough.

  2. Anonymous10:25 AM

    Senior would be very proud.

  3. Austin Dillon gets no respect from me. He punted Amirola for the win, pure and simple. Why can't the media call it for what it is - dirty driving? And keeping the legacy of the #3 as the dirtiest driver in NASCAR intact. Calling him the "Silver Spoon Kid" is the kindest thing I can say about Dillon.

    1. Here's the deal, if I was Austin's sponsor and he didn't punt Aric, I would be furious! He did what he had to do to win the race, plain and simple! His name is not Mark Martin! Hat's off to Austin for doing what he did to win the race! And I am not in any shape or form a fan of Austin!

  4. Spare us the excellence on dirt assertions. Austin and his brother might’ve won a couple of 1000-1500 to win local shows in N.C., but they aren’t beating Lucas and WoO fields. I’ve seen both the Dillon boys race on dirt at SAS and SummerNats shows. They’ve had the field out-dollared, had Shane McDowell turning wrenches, but don’t have the car control or the talent. Those kids ain’t competing with the Bobby Pierce, Josh Richards, and Johnathan Davenports of the world. Don’t have the talent.

    The bottom line is NA$CAR is circling the drain. Brian France has ruined what his granddad and dad built. Too many big tracks, too many non driving corporate shills, too many empty seats, and crappy tv coverage on second rate cable tv. If NA$CAR ever wants to save itself it needs to bulldoze almost all the 1.5 and 2+ mile tracks, build short tracks, and quit the gimmickry and obvious manipulation of races.

    1. Anonymous8:05 PM

      Watching these brothers pull up in their million dollar rigs to race locals that pull their dirt cars on open trailers... /they easily out classed and out horse powered the competition... sort of like what Kyle Busch used to do regularly do in the truck series...a top NASCAR driver, Top Nascar backed equipment

  5. Anonymous3:12 PM

    if you thing it was dirty driving that won that race you're wrong. you can't be the leader on the last lap and thing you can just slide up and block without getting a bump from behind. you can't have it both ways, i'm the leader and you're not gonna pass me if i block you there, or here. Amirola even knows that.

    rubbin's racin' and on the last lap either go faster, move over or you'll get moved.

  6. Anonymous11:03 PM

    I've got nothing against him, but really? You choose a race where he beat out the only other 9 cars left on the lead lap as his defining moment? And only 2 of those 9 were actual contenders. Seriously?

    dave in Ohio

  7. Turn 3 has lost a lot of races in Daytona history. This loss was no different. Even JG24 mentioned it in the broadcast.. Look at the replay... 10 was fishtailing like a flounder and blocked anyway.. He didn't get punted.. He lost control... And think about it.. Real control? Low downforce? Control is an illusion... He was positioned badly and the 3 was hauling ass to a checkered flag.. No brainer #snowflakes

  8. Anonymous8:02 AM

    For the entire Speedweeks, we saw blocking. Everyone was upset after the Clash because everyone sat behind the blocks and rode. Same for Duels. It was The Daytona 500. Guys are gonna go for the win. If Austin checks up, he is getting wrecked from behind. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

  9. Anonymous5:11 PM

    Dillon's move wasn't any dirtier than Aric's block. Wasn't that long ago that blocking was one of the ultimate dirty moves in Cup racing. The dump was dirty, but so was the block.

    On the 'silver spoon' arguments - wasn't it Dale Sr. that started DEI so his kid had a place to drive? Oh, but that's different.... Yeah.

    1. All just great points! Thanks man!

  10. The Dillon-Almirola encounter was a regrettable confluence where one can make a credible case against both drivers. I think part of anger toward Dillon is remembering of the RCR 3's dodgy history of on-track shunts.

    Certainly Dillon's unimpressive overall Cup-level resume to this point has a hand in why some were angry at his move, but what it brings to mind is the old saw about how it takes five years before a driver establishes whether he's good or not. Darrell Waltrip has told the story that Richard Petty said to him in 1973 that it would take five years before a driver would establish any bona fides, and Waltrip acknowledged in 1977 that Petty had been right, it had taken five years for Waltrip to figure it out.

    If anything Dillon's slowness at establishing Cup-level legitimacy is a case of a driver earning his stripes the hard way. He did deserve some criticism in earlier years for the way he carried himself as if he was better than he in fact was.

  11. Anonymous9:04 PM

    Been wearing my #3 Goodwrench jacket since Monday morning. Felt good to put it on again.

    Pistonhead from Texas

  12. I think it's safe to say the guy has talent. He has won titles in each of the two lower series. However- he has not displayed he is an excellent driver when it comes to the competition that is currently on the cup side. Yes- he has won (2) races. But out of those races- hasn't he only led (3) laps between the two of them? He doesn't consistently run up front. He doesn't consistently battle for the win. He won a fuel mileage race by being at the right place at the right time and a restrictor plate race where he was running mid pack before a wreck cleared much of the field in front of him. Do I believe he's talented enough to hold his ride in cup? Absolutely. But (2) wins in the way they were won does not signal the next arrival of the #3. He still has a lot of work to do before he's excepted as an elite cup driver- no matter how many championships he has at the lower levels.

  13. Anonymous2:02 AM

    Seems everyone is complaining about the contact or blocking between Austin and Eric on the last lap of the Daytona 500. I don't have an opinion as to if it was dirty or not but it does seem EVERYONE has forgotten what happened on the last lap of the 2001 daytona 500...the man we all loved lost his life BLOCKING for his 2 cars in front of him...protecting the win for his company. Call it what you want...congratulations to Austin and the rest of the #3 team, it was a great race!

  14. A restrictor plate win doesn't make a Michael Waltrip...Derek Cope. He'd be lucky to finish in the top 20 weekly with a team without spending limits