Austin Dillon celebrates his title - NASCAR photoEnlarge Photo
Although this is Richard Childress' second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driving championship (Mike Skinner earned the first in 1995), no doubt the accomplishment by grandson Austin Dillon on the Homestead-Miami Speedway 1.5-mile oval makes this title more meaningful for Childress.
21-year-old Dillon needed to finish 16th to secure his championship and finished tenth in the rain-shortened race, won by series runner-up Johnny Sauter. He is the youngest CWTS champion in series history.
Childress, known as the team owner for the late Dale Earnhardt, fielded a No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevy truck for Dillon this year. "It's so special when you're family," he said after congratulating his grandson. "Our whole family is involved, and I remember the very first (of 7) championship with Dale Earnhardt. I had the same feeling tonight watching Austin, my grandson. It's just so special to have the family and know how hard all of them worked."
The keys to Dillon's title were simple: "He was conservative when he had to be and he raced hard when he had to be. He handles pressure better than a lot of people his age. He must get that from his mom because me and his dad get a little wound up sometimes," Childress said.
Dillon exulted that the championship was "the best feeling I've ever had in my entire life. I'm so happy for my grandfather. I wish we could have finished the race; I think we had a shot to win," he said. "We had a fast race car."
Austin Dillon has quite a future ahead of him. He's leaving the Truck series in 2012 for NASCAR's Nationwide Series where he'll drive a No. 3 car for his grandfather. Younger brother Ty, who wrapped up the ARCA Series title takes over the No. 3 Camping World Chevy truck and will try attempt to make it two Dillon championships in a row.
© 2011 Anne Proffit