Seated on opposite sides of the room for their respective media scrums, one driver was surrounded by only a handful of reporters. The other had been swallowed up by a large crowd.
Ty Dillon offered a smile as he took in the scene around Ryan Blaney. Then he threw down the gauntlet.
“Things like today where there are 20 people wanting to interview him on the other side of the room, and there are four people over here… I promise you next year at this time, I’m going to make everything I do so that I can have that much attention,” Dillon said. “I’m honest, I’m telling you the truth. That’s what I feel.
“I’m changing a lot of my aspects of what I’m doing. I kind of take [this] as a little bit of a jab, and I’m going to make it into something great. Next year’s going to be fun when we’re sitting right here.”
Dillon projected confidence that his No. 13 Germain Racing team would be better coming off their rookie season. Although he missed out on scoring a top-10 finish, Dillon displayed flashes of contender status with 40 laps led and eight top-15 efforts. As a single-car effort and with a driver in his first full season, a 24th-place finish in the points offered a place to build from.
It starts with the driver. Asked where he can improve, Dillon wasn’t afraid to look inward.
“My patience,” he said. “I get pissed when I’m not in the top 10 or first every time [out] and that affected me a lot this previous year.”
Toward the end of the year, Dillon said he let the emotion go. Shifting his focus fully onto the process of getting his Chevrolet to drive the way he needed it to, confidence began to build that when the feel is there, he can win races.
But don’t misunderstand, Dillon is not predicting anything for 2018 other than to say his group is going to keep growing. Germain Racing has also made offseason moves to back that up.
NASCAR veteran and 13-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner Matt Borland took over crew chief duties in November. The team is also going through engineering changes after announcing its technical director and engineer would not be returning.
Growth will happen, the cars will get better, and Dillon knows what he can do differently. And with a year under his belt, Dillon feels he has a grasp on what it takes to have an opportunity at the top level. With the technical alliance to Richard Childress Racing, Dillon said “I promise” the team is getting everything it needs.
Now he just needs to deliver on his promise for next year’s NASCAR Media Tour.
“I know that if go through my process as a driver week in and week out, I will improve,” Dillon said. “Matt Borland has been changing the culture a little bit, not that we did a bad job last year with Bootie [Barker] or Bootie did anything wrong, we just needed a new perspective and a new thought process in the shop, and I think that Matt has provided that, and we’ve done a lot of things that are going to help us improve our consistency and put us in the right positions.
“So, I think our goal is to run consistently inside the top 15, top 10. I think that’s a very achievable goal, and if we do that, we’re going to get more opportunities. I feel like we really did well at executing races, so if we take that with just a little bit more speed consistently throughout the weekend, we’re going to be good.”