Ty Dillon: Petty GMS Racing "to get the best of me"

New team, new car, new teammate and new approach – just about everything has changed for Ty Dillon in the NASCAR Cup Series and he’s looking forward to every minute of it.

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There were few drivers more upbeat during this week’s Next Gen test at Charlotte Motor Speedway than Dillon, who will drive the No. 42 Chevrolet for Petty GMS Racing in the 2022 season.

His enthusiasm wasn’t just for the results his team was seeing on the track but also for the continued opportunity he has to compete in NASCAR’s premier series.

After four seasons driving in the Cup Series for Germain Racing, Dillon entered 2021 sitting on the sidelines after the organization closed its doors. He ended up piecing together a 16-race schedule of Cup, Xfinity and Truck races.

Dillon, 29, said the time away provided an opportunity to reevaluate his motivation for racing and in turn renewed his passion to compete.

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“I grew up in this sport and for a long time I always knew what I was going to do the next year until this year I had nothing, and on my own, I had to kind of figure it out,” he said. “I would get a couple races here and couple races there. There were a lot of weekends I wasn’t at the race track and sitting at home.

“I realized what my motivation for racing was – it’s not the same as what it was when I was younger. I put my worth into the results on the scoreboard every week, week-in and week-out and emotionally that’s really hard to do at the top level (of NASCAR). There are so many factors that go into it. I also put my worth into what everyone thought of me.

“When you sit back and you don’t have it, you realize what you really miss about it and for me it was the opportunity to go to work every day to hone in on a craft. The work, the effort, the process of being a top-level NASCAR driver – that’s my real motivation. Results will come and go. So, I’m just hungry in a different way and motivated in a deeper and truer way.”

Making the most of a second chance

While Dillon’s four seasons with Germain Racing in Cup netted only a pair of top-five and six top-10 finishes – including a career-best finish of third at Talladega in 2020 – he has no regrets over his tenure.

In fact, he believes it only makes him appreciate more the second chance he has with Petty GMS Racing.

“With respect to Germain Racing, we put together the best effort we could every single week with a great group of guys that worked really hard,” Dillon said.

“I just think now as an organization with two teams, the amount of capital involved with our race team in general, the way we’re structured now within Chevrolet, I would say in general … there is a lot more opportunity here to capitalize.”

In just two days of testing at Charlotte this week – his first at a track as part of a two-car team – Dillon can already see a much different landscape when it comes to on-track competition.

“The first couple of tests we were just figuring out the components on the car and kind of working through some quality control issues there. Now we’re focused on speed and racing – the things you work on throughout the season,” he said.

“It’s nice to see the progression going from when you start from scratch. To have a teammate is so nice. I’ve never really had real teammate. I’ve had technical alliance partners but it’s just not the same. It’s just really cool to have an extra set of eyes and ears.

“Erik (Jones) and are so similar – we actually run the same insert in the seat. He’s been great to talk to so far. I’m super-pumped to have our Petty GMS team with two cars, two very competitive drivers and two crew chiefs that are young and hungry.”

Dillon believes the organization’s best days all lie ahead.

“Having this second opportunity in my career, I’m absolutely full of gratitude to have it because not many people get it. I’ve seen the other side of not racing,” he said.

“Petty GMS Racing is going to get the best of me week-in and week-out and I think NASCAR is going to see the best version of me as a driver.”

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