DILLEY ENJOYS THE RACING LIFE DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2007) -- In the view of many, stock car racing has become a young man's sport, but don't tell that to Mark Dilley. Dilley, 38, is in his 24th year of car racing and wouldn't...
DILLEY ENJOYS THE RACING LIFE
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2007) -- In the view of many, stock car racing has become a young man's sport, but don't tell that to Mark Dilley.
Dilley, 38, is in his 24th year of car racing and wouldn't have it any other way. The lure of getting behind the wheel of a racecar almost always grips drivers early in life, and Dilley was no exception. But the desire to excel still flows through him.
"It's what I do and all I really know," said Dilley, who is racing in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio. "The competition is what drives me and I'm as busy now with racing as I've ever been."
That is not to say, though, that he does not have his moments of doubt. The hours spent driving one of these cars cannot be equated to driving the family on a vacation. There are no CD players. No satellite radio with hundreds of programming options at the fingertips. No roomy leather seats. No climate control. In fact, the temperatures in these cars is often well above 40 degrees Celsius.
"Sure, there are times when I get a little sick of it toward the end of the season, but I miss it very, very soon after it's done," Dilley said. "It's a bit of a 'Catch-22' situation, but I love it far more often than I don't."
Thoughts of a championship looms large for all race teams especially for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in this, its first season. All drivers want to hold their index finger in the air with a huge sense of self-accomplishment. There may well be some measure of that inside Dilley, but it is not the overriding force.
"The championship is what we all are shooting for, and I would like to win this first NASCAR championship," said Dilley. "But it is more of a way for me to give back to my crew, who work extremely hard on the car. It's also a way to thank Dodge, my sponsor, and all of my supporters for their efforts. Those are the people that make this program the success that it is."
Two of the Canadian Tire Series' youngest drivers grabbed the lion's share of the limelight at the last event held at Mosport International Raceway. Andrew Ranger, 20, along with J.R. Fitzpatrick, 19, started and ended the race in first and second, respectively. The role of mentor to the series' younger competitors is also not lost on Dilley.
"Those two guys are very talented young drivers and they're not the only ones. There are several good, young (drivers) in this series," said Dilley. "It would be easy to be a little resentful of the attention they get, but they are the future of this sport not only in Canada, but worldwide. I think it's every veteran driver's duty to help them along in any way we can."
While Dilley is willing to provide a helping hand or advice to younger drivers, and seemingly wants to win a championship for everyone but himself, his accomplishments early in the season can't be ignored. He has logged a pair of top-10 finishes in his No. 9 Dodge-sponsored Avenger, including a runner-up finish in the inaugural NASCAR Canadian Tires Series event a Cayuga Speedway Park. Those two efforts rank him third in the championship point standings, just 20 points behind points leader Ranger.
Next up for the Canadian Tire Series is the Mopar 300 at Barrie (Ontario) Speedway, a track that Dilley knows quite well. He is a former owner of the 1/3-mile tri-oval and still runs the Barrie Speedway Driving Experience, a comprehensive program designed to give people the true thrill of short track racing.
As is the case for all short tracks, the key to winning at Barrie Speedway is patience according to Dilley, a Barrie resident. However, practicing what he preaches is sometimes difficult with the added pressure of the hometown crowd.
"It always seems that I give a little extra when it comes to racing there," he said. "It paid off in 2005 by winning the (former CASCAR Super Series) race, but in the two visits there last year; we did not get the finishes we hoped for."
A 1/3-mile track is a crowded place for 20 to 30 cars all aiming for the preferred line.
"Like the saying goes, you have to finish to win," Dilley said. "And to finish, you need to race the track and keep the car as clean as possible."
Ticket information for the Mopar 300 can be obtained by calling Barrie Speedway at (705) 487-0279 or by logging onto www.barriespeedway.com.
What: Mopar 300 (Race No. 3 of 12 in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio).
Where: Barrie (Ontario) Speedway.
When: 8:45 p.m. ET (approx.), Sunday, July 1, 2007.
Track layout: 1/3-mile tri-oval.
Race length: 300 laps/100 miles.
Posted awards: $70,894 CAD.
TV: TSN (Sat., July 14, 1 p.m. ET).
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sun., 7/1 -- 7:00 a.m. Registration Opens; 12:00-1:00 p.m. Practice; 2:00-3:00 p.m. Practice; 5:30 p.m. Bud Pole Qualifying. 8:45 p.m. Mopar 300.