Dillon Looks To Get Fresh Start At NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown  NASCAR PR Report
2008 CWSE Rookie of the Year Looks Forward to First Irwindale Trip
Austin Dillon had a nearly perfect season: He was the top rookie in the NASCAR Camping World Series East, won his first NASCAR race and nearly knocked off series veteran Matt Kobyluck for the series championship.

The 18-year-old from Lewisville, N.C., now has his sights set on the biggest race of the NASCAR short-track racing calendar: The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Thursday, Dillon joined Kobyluck as drivers to officially commit to running ‘the Daytona 500 of short-track racing.’

Dillon is scheduled to head out to California the first week of January to test at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in advance of the Jan. 23-24 race weekend there.

“It’s great to start out the year at a really cool track with some new opportunities,” said Dillon of the half-mile oval that features graduated banking and multiple racing grooves. “It will be a fun race. You go out there and get what you can get and hopefully win it. It will be a tough race with the competition out there.”

The race was moved from its original fall date, where the first five were run, to January. The change offers drivers a chance to break out of those winter doldrums with some high-stakes racing. With no points at stake, the event is all about the money and the bragging rights.

For Dillon, who intends to make another run at the NASCAR Camping World East championship in 2009, it’s an opportunity to put an exclamation point on his rookie campaign and generate additional momentum heading into his sophomore season.

Dillon, the grandson of NASCAR car owner Richard Childress, started his 2008 in April with a NASCAR Camping World Series East victory at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina. That victory secured Dillon a starting spot in January’s postseason showcase.

Austin Dillon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway Photo)
Race winners of NASCAR Camping World Series events and champions of each of NASCAR’s seven developmental series earn secured spots in the race.

Kobyluck, Dillon, Trevor Bayne, Eddie MacDonald, Peyton Sellers, Brian Ickler, Aric Almirola, Eric Holmes, Jason Bowles, Jeff Barkshire, Mike David, Todd Souza and Jason Fensler won NASCAR Camping World Series races.

In addition, Philip Morris (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series), Scott Steckly (NASCAR Canadian Tire Series), Antonio Perez (NASCAR Mexico Series), Ted Christopher (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour) and Brian Loftin (NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour) won championships. Kobyluck and Holmes won the NASCAR Camping World Series East and West, respectively.

Dillon was nearly on that list, as he led the points standings for much of the year. He finished with six top fives and 10 top 10s in 13 starts. He was the top-finishing rookie four times.

He also made a pair of NASCAR Nationwide Series starts and turned in an impressive fourth-place finish at Memphis in his second race.

“Next year it’s going to be tough to beat that,” Dillon said, “but with the guys I’m surrounded with and the team I have, I think we have a shot at the championship.”