RACING

Petty GMS drivers Dillon and Jones head in opposite directions

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LOUDON, NH – What a week.

Silly Season went into a seismic shock on Tuesday, with Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick taking part in a 23XI Racing video conference to announce he would be joining the Toyota-backed organization as a full-time driver from 2024.

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Given that Reddick is locked in with RCR for 2023, fresh off his first Cup Series win earlier this month and giving the organization its best shot at winning its first championship since Dale Earnhardt’s seventh title in 1994, the news probably surprised everyone outside of the small group of people who negotiated the 26-year-old’s future contract.

As if that weren’t enough, as the teams had just prepared for race weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon, Ty Dillon dropped a bombshell on Twitter with a statement saying – after just 19 races together – he and Petty GMS “mutually agreed to part ways” at the end of 2022.

The two-car Petty GMS organization appeared to be one on the rise, building a strong base with a pair of talented former prospects looking to re-establish themselves as Cup Series presences. The abrupt announcement of Dillon’s departure was almost as surprising as Reddick’s.

RELATED: T. Dillon, Petty GMS to Split | Stupid Season Roundup

“So many things happened this week,” Dillon said. “Obviously I’m so focused on doing my best in the 42s this year, and getting everything I can prove to people that I can win races in the Cup Series and I’m there. one of the top 36 drivers in the show, which I know I am. But I’m a free agent, which is always exciting, you know, and it’s just a bridge to the next opportunity that I’m looking forward to. enjoy, and I’m going to have fun with it. You know, this week has been hard to deal with all the news about leaving, but from now on, I can focus on what’s next. And also leave everything in play knowing that I’m not coming back, it’s kind of a release in a sense to go and give it my all every weekend. And you know, I think that’s only going to be the best for me, and I’m going to them wish the best in the future.

Dillon chose not to divulge any details of the split, saying “it’s probably a question for (Petty GMS)”, and Jones mentioned he was also unaware of it – “I don’t know all the secrets of it. Obviously, there’s probably some business stuff out there” – but wait a minute. Maybe there’s no acrimony. Maybe there’s no acrimony. A different scenario presented itself, abruptly and unexpectedly, for Dillon’s future.

Reddick’s decision means the #8 car will be available for 2024 if RCR retains two cars. The other team car is driven by Austin Dillon, Ty’s brother. The team is, of course, owned by Childress, Ty and Austin’s grandfather. We almost feel too perfect of a scenario to just line up Ty to replace Reddick in a year and a half, maybe sending him back to an Xfinity car with the team to fill in the gap year. But it’s a possibility the 30-year-old Welcome, North Carolina native has certainly considered.

“Obviously I’ve always wanted to race for my grandfather since I started racing,” said Dillon, currently 27th in points. “So that’s definitely something I’m going to look into. But you know, there’s still a lot going on throughout the year. And there’s a lot going on with this situation. But I’m available I’m available to everyone, so we’ll see what happens.

To some extent it always seemed inevitable that Childress would end up fielding Cup cars for his grandsons, it just hasn’t turned out that way until now for a variety of reasons. It could open the door to making it a reality, and if it did, Dillon would have had one of the most twisty and winding paths to a competitive first series in recent memory.

Austin’s trajectory has been extremely straightforward, beginning his full-time NASCAR career with RCR in 2010 in the Camping World Truck Series, winning the title the following year, doing a similar two-year stint in the Xfinity Series – with a another title in 2013 – before jumping to Earnhardt’s former No. 3 in 2014, where he has been ever since. Ty was essentially on the same path with two seasons in trucks and three at Xfinity level before starting full-time in the Cup in 2017 with Germain Racing, where he was until 2020 before the team shut down. After Ryan Newman left the team in 2018, there was speculation that Ty would replace him, but Ty opted to stay with Germain and the car – which was then the No. 31 Chevrolet – went to the place to Daniel Hemric, who finally gave it up to Reddick the next day. year.

Ty Dillon’s last two years then saw a handful of unsuccessful starts with Cup startup Gaunt Brothers Racing, 12 Xfinity starts spread across four different teams with just three top 10s and now an early end to what seemed, from l Outside, a good long-term at home for him with ‘The King’ and Maury Gallagher’s operation.

“It’s definitely not easy (to maintain my resolve), but I think as you grow and mature, things happen in your life,” Dillon told NASCAR.com. “At the end of the day, you have your family and the people who matter most and they believe in you. And if you don’t believe in yourself to begin with, you’ll never give yourself the full opportunity. So I’ll never give up on me. and knowing that I can do it. I’ve proven to myself that I can do it. Just a matter of situations coming together. And I think one thing about that, and that’s our family motto with my wife and my kids is that we’re Dillons and we don’t give up so I can’t show them any surrender in my life and I can use everything that’s going on in my life, everything that comes and goes as an example for them to live in the future.

As Dillon’s outlook at the moment is murky at best, Jones indicated on Saturday that he may announce a long-speculated extension with Petty GMS in the short term. The Byron, Michigan native further negotiated his deal with Gallagher earlier this week on FaceTime — while in the ‘Great Lakes State’ for his grandfather’s 90th birthday — and says that the paperwork boils down to “very small details here at the end of the day” and is “for next year at least, and hopefully more in the future too”.

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Jones seems to have found comfort with Petty GMS, having the option at this point to talk to other teams, but saying he’s not really interested in doing so and would rather just settle everything with his extension. The feeling must be mutual, as the Chevy organization is seeking feedback on who their future teammate will be, even though that decision is still a long way off.

“I don’t know, right now (who will be in 42),” Jones said. “You know, obviously these discussions are going on for a bit. And, you know, as we’ve made this decision, you know, I’m kind of being asked who I think (it should be) kinda fair, which I appreciate, you know, that they trust me to trying to go pick someone, which is still ultimately theirs. But obviously there are a few names that you know probably deserve a shot in the Cup Series. I don’t think he’ll be a guy (currently) in the Cup Series.

As for what’s next for Dillon, well, he still intends to finish the season with Petty GMS. But in the meantime, he said “there have been conversations starting” with other teams. There’s no doubt he still believes in himself and his abilities, it’s just a matter of whether there’s a team out there that wants to take a flyer on him.

“I still have a lot of the year left, we have about 17 races to go to continue showing what I can do,” he said. “And a lot of things are still going to happen with other seats and other rides and the sport in general. So, like I said, I’m a free agent, and I can talk to who I am and I I’m available, so we’ll see how it goes.

“I will definitely never give up on my dream. And that’s winning races and Cup championships, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get to that position with a team that really believes in me and wants to give me a good chance.

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