Jul 26, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS – It was just a regular Nationwide Series race, but the location is what made it special: the most legendary venue in motorsports, Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In the end, Ty Dillon – grandson of Sprint Cup owner Richard Childress – earned without question the greatest victory of his young career, capturing the Lilly Diabetes 250.
And to top it all off, he won an extra $100,000 in the Nationwide Dash-4-Cash promotion, with the finals next Saturday night at Iowa Speedway.
“We got out front and she unleashed,” Dillon told ESPN of his race car. “I’m so happy. … Boy, I just about had it out there.”
Dillon could be seen wiping tears of happiness from his eyes after taking the win, and admitted he was praying as the final laps clicked off.
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet, but the emotions are incredible,” Dillon said when he came into the IMS media center afterward. “I remember when I finished third here in my second career Nationwide race a couple years ago.
“There’s something about this place that just feels right to me. I wasn’t going to let this thing go, I wasn’t going to let it slip. I gave it everything I had.”
Grandpa Richard — otherwise known as “Pop-Pop” by his grandsons — was understandably proud of his progeny.
“We’ve won here at Dale and Kevin and Paul,” Childress said. “I remembered I said he’d win one day here at Indy.”
Dillon drove the entire race with a broken air conditioning unit.
“When Kyle Busch is pushing you, he doesn’t mess up, so I knew I’d have to drive every lap perfectly,” he said. “If I had passed out going into one of these corners, at least I knew I’d given it the best I had.
“It’s just mind over matter at that point. I knew after the race I was going to be pretty wiped out, but in the moment, I gave it everything I had.”
He also had to worry about running out of fuel, but found just enough to get him to the finish before his tank ran dry on the celebratory burnout.
And with pole-sitter Kyle Busch stalking him for the final 23 laps, Dillon drove like he’s never driven before. Busch gave Dillon – whose younger brother Austin, a Sprint Cup rookie, was watching from the stands – a battle but his Toyota was no match to catch Dillon’s Chevrolet.
“When you’ve got the best guy in the business behind you, it’s tough,” Dillon said. “I’m glad to be able to win this (Dash-4-Cash) check.”
Dillon, just 22, got a great jump on a restart with 23 laps remaining, passed race leader Busch and never looked back in the 100-lap, 250-mile race around the 2.5-mile oval.
“Growing up as a young kid, you always want to come to Indy and win, and today we did,” Dillon’s crew chief, Danny Stockman Jr., told ESPN. “I wouldn’t be afraid to say that we might get on a roll here.”
To celebrate, Dillon did one of the best burnouts that the sport has seen in a long time, staying in place while leaving a deep mark right in front of the brick-laden start/finish line.
“That was really cool,” Childress said. “He’s had some close runs, but to come up here and win against some of the best.”
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