Ty Dillon looking to turn the corner in first Coca-Cola 600 with Germain Racing

In a year of firsts for Dillon, the Rookie of the Year candidate hopes to have a strong showing at his hometown track

Peter Casey—USA Today Sports
NASCAR Cup Series driver Ty Dillon (13) during practice for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

CHARLOTTE — Ty Dillon is enjoying a lot of firsts this year.In the midst of his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Dillon is just outside the top 20 in the standings. Earlier this month, he announced with his wife, Haley, that they will be welcoming their first child with the arrival of his daughter expected in November.On Sunday, he’ll get a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream with another first — participating in the Coca-Cola 600.”Yeah, this one’s definitely huge,” Dillon said. “This is a track that I’ve gone to and watched hundreds of races since I was born. Being one of the very few drivers born and raised here in North Carolina, in my hometown and my backyard is very important.”The grandson of Richard Childress, Dillon and his brother, Austin, grew up at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Unlike most children, Ty was able to watch Dale Earnhardt drive the No. 3 car — a Richard Childress Racing machine — around the 1.5-mile oval from his grandfather’s condo at the track.Back then, watching the pre-race show was more enthralling than the race itself for a young Dillon. After all, it’s difficult to keep a child’s attention during 600 miles of racing, even if that youngster is a future NASCAR driver.”We’d watch the start of the race, take a nap and go play through half the race,” Dillon explained. “Then we’d always come back and watch the end to cheer on our guys and hopefully go to Victory Lane for the wins. Just a lot of cool memories there.”Now Dillon gets the chance to make some of his own. Unfortunately, none of those memories will include a nap anymore.In fact, NASCAR has mad an attempt to eliminate naps for every fan looking to keep up with the race. Adding stages to each race has brought on more exciting battles for top-10 positioning midway through races for points and a playoff point for leading a stage. On Sunday, the Coca-Cola 600 will be the first four-stage race with a stoppage at every 100 laps or 150 miles.Given that it’s his first attempt at the race in his 30th Cup start overall, Dillon admitted just finishing on the lead lap would be a huge accomplishment. But preparing for 900 miles over two days — he’ll drive the No. 3 car in the Xfinity Series race, too — isn’t an easy task.”It’s definitely different,” Dillon said. “I appreciate the long races, the physical side of our sport and what it takes to get the job done at this level. I look forward to my first 600 miler.”Dillon might not know it yet, but 600 miles is nothing compared to the endurance it takes to be a father.All the added responsibility hasn’t slowed down the careers of several top drivers in the sport. Kevin Harvick won his first championship in 2014, two years after his son, Keelan, was born. Kyle Busch followed that up with the 2015 title on the same year his son, Brexton, was born.Dillon is far from a championship contender at the Cup level, but the added motivation to provide for your fledgling family certainly has helped spur other drivers. Even with the birth of his daughter still more than five months away, Ty said nothing he does in NASCAR this season will compare to what’s to come.”It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever gone through … and it hasn’t even happened yet,” Dillon said with a laugh. “Haley and I have been together almost six years now and married two and a half. It’s something that we both really want. We love kids. For this to be happening, we’re just both so excited.”In racing, you have so many ups and downs throughout the season. She’s not even here yet, but she’s already making everything so much easier.”Despite his four top-10 finishes in the last six Xfinity Series races, Dillon admitted Charlotte has been a “handful” during his career. Nearly every time he’s had speed and battled for the lead, Dillon said he’s either had a mechanical issue at Charlotte, which is not common for him at any other track.But all of that is thrown out the window in the 600, Dillon’s first attempt in a Cup car. Even with top-15 results at this point, Dillon is hoping to continue his success and take Germain Racing to the next level starting in Charlotte.Currently ahead of his brother Austin and other big names like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick in the standings, Dillon knows it will take more to get his team into the playoffs for the first time.”We’re excited because our goals at the beginning of the season were to finish on the lead lap and inside the top 20 at this point,” Dillon said. “But we want to do better. It’s already time to reset our goals, and that’s even more exciting. “From now on, we’re shifting our mindset to only finishing inside the top 15 is acceptable. That hopefully starts in Charlotte.”