Even if it is just one more race (for now), Ty Dillon has increased his 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule. On Monday, Gaunt Brothers Racing announced Dillon will drive for them in the second race of the season on the Daytona International Speedway road course. Dillon had already been slated to pilot the #96 Toyota Camry in the season-opening Daytona 500.
Dillon signed with GBR for the 500 in mid-January, his first non-Chevrolet team, after his prior ride at Germain Racing folded at the end of the 2020 season. The #96 does not have a charter, meaning he will have to race his way into the 500.
“It’s important for us to get a good start to the season and one of the ways we aim to achieve that is with consistency,” team owner Marty Gaunt said. “Having Ty with us for back-to-back races gives us the opportunity to build on our learnings from one week to the next and apply them at the road course. It’s obviously different disciplines going from a superspeedway to a road course, but the communication is the same. Ty brings youthful experience to our team and we want to maximize our time with him.”
While Dillon’s 500 hopes rest on qualifying and he is new to the Toyota camp, he will not have to wait long to get behind the wheel of a Camry. The 28-year-old will lend his services to the newly-formed 23XI Racing for Tuesday night’s Busch Clash on the road course as regular driver Bubba Wallace is ineligible; although Dillon has never scored a top ten on a road course, he earned himself a spot in the Clash when he won the opening stage at the Charlotte Roval last October. He will also run four Xfinity Series races in the #54 Toyota Supra for Joe Gibbs Racing beginning with the Daytona oval.
In ten Cup road course starts, his best finish is fifteenth at the Roval in 2019. When the series visited the Daytona RC for the first time last August, he finished twentieth. Dillon also has three top fives and six top tens in ten Xfinity Series road races, while his lone Camping World Truck Series start on one saw a near-victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2013 before being turned coming to the finish.
“I really enjoy the challenge of road-course racing and I’m glad that I’ll be competing at the Daytona road course for Gaunt Brothers Racing,” stated Dillon. “Ever since we announced that I’d be driving for them in the Daytona 500, I’ve been immersed with the team and Toyota. To be able to extend this relationship another week allows us to continue to feed off one another and apply all that we’re learning into on-track performance.”
The Dayona RC was initially added to the Cup schedule in 2020 as a replacement date to offset the loss of the road race at Watkins Glen to COVID-19. When the pandemic forced Auto Club Speedway in Fontana to cancel its date, the road course was once again called upon. The event will be one of seven road course dates on the Cup schedule.