(TOLEDO, Ohio) – Ty Dillon’s primary objective in traveling to Toledo for today’s ARCA Media Day was to meet members of the local media and chat with partners of Toledo Speedway and Flat Rock (Mich.) Speedway. Dillon, ever aspiring to improve as a rookie driver in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, found an additional objective.
“My crew chief (Scott Naset) and I flew up this morning, and the weather’s a little bit cooler than we have at home – we’re getting used to that – but we’re excited to be up in Toledo,” Dillon said. “I brought (Naset) back here so he could check the track out and get ahead on the competition. I just appreciate everyone having us out here.”
If there’s any surprise that Dillon and his crew chief use every opportunity available to create a competitive advantage, there shouldn’t be. The 19-year-old has made four starts in the ARCA Racing Series, winning twice and taking the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell in his other two starts. A grandson of legendary NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, Dillon has taken the ARCA Racing Series by storm while developing and striving for his career goals.
“We’re excited to get back to racing with ARCA. It’s definitely been my favorite series to run with so far,” Dillon said. “To me, it’s like a family. Everyone’s been real nice and willing to help with anything.”
Dillon, driver of the No. 41 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet, had the chance to see Toledo’s half-mile oval for the first time, and spoke about the ARCA Racing Series’ industry-leading schedule diversity, which will send drivers and teams to speedways, intermediate tracks, short tracks, dirt ovals, and a road course in 2011.
“I’m really excited for all the different tracks,” said Dillon, who finished 11th in the February season opener at Daytona and now stands tied for eighth in driver points. “I don’t think I’ve been to but two of the race tracks – Iowa (where he won the pole before his first start) and Kansas (where he won his first race in his second start). They’re all new tracks. I’ve raced dirt tracks through all of my development racing, and to go to DuQuoin and Springfield is going to be really cool. I heard it’s a little different, and I think (crew chief) “Flash” (Naset) has got the right car for us to go down there and win.
“With short tracks and big tracks, like Talladega and Daytona, I’m just really excited to get going and learn as much as I can.”
Dillon’s appearance closed a press conference initially led by ARCA president and track owner Ron Drager, who made several announcements about business at Toledo Speedway and Flat Rock Speedway – ARCA’s two signature short track properties. Drager spoke about the opening phase of ARCA’s Youth Initiative, which will move the minimum age for weekly competitors at the two tracks from 16 years old to 15. As in the past, all drivers wishing to race at Toledo or Flat Rock Speedways will have to be reviewed and certified.
“Now we’ve got these kids coming to us, and Ty Dillon is a good example, and they’ve been racing since they were little,” Drager said. “A kid will come at 13 or 14 years old, and say that he wants to climb in a race car, and he’s got eight or nine years of experience. We’re making this Phase One of the ARCA Youth Initiative, and today, we’ll announce that at Flat Rock and Toledo Speedways, qualified drivers of age 15 will be allowed to race in our weekly competition.”
Drager also indicated special plans for the ARCA Late Model Gold Cup Series event on Sunday, September 11 – the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
“We’ve been working with the City of Toledo police, and the City of Toledo fire, those folks who are truly, truly heroes,” he said. “We’re going to be rolling out some information on that and we’ll be making that a very special race. We seek to recognize them and do something very special for them on September 11.”
Drager also touched on vertical integration through all ARCA properties, citing a desire to “harness the energy” created by each entity, from the ARCA Racing Series to every division at Toledo and Flat Rock.
Scott Schultz, general manager of Toledo Speedway and Flat Rock Speedway, thanked numerous partners of the two tracks and officially revealed the tracks’ 2011 schedules. Schultz announced the following businesses as weekly division sponsors: Moran Chevrolet (Flat Rock Late Models); DTS Drive Train Specialists (Flat Rock Street Stocks); ACME Dismantling (Toledo Sportsman); R&M Recycling (Toledo Street Stocks); Parts Galore (Figure 8, both tracks); and Jeff’s Collision (4-Cylinders, both tracks). Schultz also announced the return of Allegiant Air as the presenting sponsor of the Gold Cup Series.
Schultz announced the return of Valvoline Instant Oil Change as the sponsor of the “Summer Racing Series” this season. The program allows Toledo Speedway and the nine metropolitan Toledo Valvoline Instant Oil Change locations to partner on a ticketing promotion for 10 select Friday night events at the track.
Additionally, Mark Gundrum, vice president of marketing and communications for ARCA, announced Menards’ return as title sponsor of Sunday, May 15’s Menards 200, the spring ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards event at Toledo Speedway. The Wisconsin-based home improvement retailer also acts as a co-primary car sponsor for driver Frank Kimmel in the ARCA Racing Series, as well as the series’ presenting sponsor.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 28 states since its inception. The series tests the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, annually visiting tracks ranging from 0.4 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course.
Founded by John Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in two professional touring series and local weekly events.