DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 9, 1999) Mike Dillon now recognizes his biggest mistake in racing and promises to make amends this year. "I've been guilty of setting my goals too low," said the driver of the No. 59 Kingsford/Matchlight Chevrolet in...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 9, 1999) Mike Dillon now recognizes his biggest mistake in racing and promises to make amends this year.
"I've been guilty of setting my goals too low," said the driver of the No. 59 Kingsford/Matchlight Chevrolet in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division. "In the last couple years, I didn't set my goals high enough. That won't happen again. From now on, my goals are simple: I want to win races and contend for a championship. I won't sell myself short again. From now on, I want it all."
Dillon got off to a good start in Bud Pole Award Qualifying Tuesday for Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 300, when he qualified 21st in a field of 65 cars -- "locking" himself into the field for the event. Dillon ran 187.813 mph, trailing Bud Pole winner Ken Schrader by a couple mph.
"We're racing for a championship," Dillon said. "Some people define success by winning a race or winning a pole. We want to win every time we go to the race track. I think we're a championship team. If you win races, you win championships."
Dillon joined ST Motorsports during the off-season. After three somewhat successful seasons with Ron Parker's Detroit Gasket race team, the son-in-law of legendary NASCAR Winston Cup Series car owner Richard Childress will campaign Kingsford's colors this year.
The decision to join ST Motorsports apparently was easy.
"The chemistry is unbelievable," Dillon said. "Everyone on this race team is talented, and everyone is willing to do whatever it takes to make the car run fast. As far as people are concerned, this is the best opportunity I've ever had in racing.
"You have to appreciate a car owner like Tad (Geschickter), a man who wants to put everything back into the race team. You have to appreciate a crew chief like Steve Plattenberger. He works so hard and gives everyone so much confidence. And you have to appreciate a sponsor like Kingsford. The people at Kingsford are committed to this race team, and that really keeps everyone on the team pumped up."
The decision to hire Dillon apparently was easy, too.
"I think having Mike Dillon for every race this year will be a great benefit to our race team," Geschickter said. "It will give us the opportunity to build consistency. I have a lot of respect for Mike Dillon. I'm impressed with his ability, his work ethic and his desire. But more than anything else, he's perfect for our race team. In this business, chemistry is vital to a team's success. Mike fits in perfectly, and I think that kind of chemistry will be valuable throughout the season."
Dillon comes to a race team that's desperate for continuity. Robert Pressley was the primary driver a year ago, but his tenure was often interrupted by commitments to the Winston Cup Series. That put Geschickter and Plattenberger in an awkward position to find seven different relief drivers in 1998.
"I know they had a lot of good runs in 1998, but I think they really missed having the consistency you only get when you deal with the same driver week after week," Dillon said. "I think the idea of having one driver -- a driver who's committed to winning races and going for the championship -- has everyone excited.
"You can see it in the way the guys work on the car. You can see it when we get together for a test session. Everyone on this race team knows this has the potential to be a breakout season for all of us."
To solidify the chemistry between the Kingsford crewmen and Dillon, the driver often spends off days in the team's new shop in Charlotte. Not only does he gain valuable experience in how a race car is constructed, but he earns the respect of his teammates by sharing in many of the tedious duties.
"I have a good time at the shop," Dillon said. "We get more accomplished than building race cars. We strengthen the chemistry that's become the backbone of this race team."
Compounding Dillon's optimism is a significant contribution from Childress, who's directed Dale Earnhardt to six of his NASCAR Winston Cup championships, will supply ST Motorsports with engines for the entire NASCAR Busch Series campaign.
"We have incredible horsepower," Dillon said. "And we have the added confidence of knowing the engines that come out of Richard Childress' shops not only are fast, but they stay in one piece.
"We've stepped back and looked at everything we needed to make ourselves one of the elite teams on the NASCAR Busch Series. Unbelievable engines, a fulltime driver, team chemistry, great cars, a great crew, a committed car owner and a sponsor that's supported every move we've made -- we've got it all."
Which makes it easy for Dillon to set higher goals that ever before -- goals as lofty as winning races and contending for a NASCAR Busch Series championship.
Source: NASCAR Online