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Silly Season Rumors: Ty Dillon to Kaulig?

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Joshua Lipowski

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With Carson Hocevar taking the 77 car for 2024, Ty Dillon is officially looking for a new ride for the 2024 season. It’s not a major surprise to many as Dillon is sitting 33rd in points, the lowest of any driver to have competed in every race so far this season. Bob Pockrass name-dropped Ty Dillon in September as a candidate for the ride should A.J. Allmendinger move down to the Xfinity Series, and many on social media are groaning at that possibility of potentially becoming a reality. Could it actually happen?

What We Know About Kaulig’s 2024 Plans So Far

Kaulig seems set on completely revamping their driver lineup for 2024. They already let Justin Haley go to Rick Ware Racing, and Daniel Hemric is taking over the 31 car in 2024. A.J. Allmendinger’s 2024 plans have yet to be officially announced, but things became more clear following Allmendinger’s win at the Charlotte Roval last weekend.

Following that race, Jordan Bianchi reported that Allmendinger is likely moving down to Xfinity next year, and Matt Kaulig said that the 2024 plans for the 16 car are already set. Bianchi also sat down with Chris Rice, team president at Kaulig, who said that their decision is down to sponsorship dollars and funding. Whoever takes the 16 car will likely be someone with significant funding.

The natural candidate for that would be Chandler Smith. He has significant funding from Quick Tie Products, and he has won an Xfinity Series race for the team at Richmond this year. It would be only natural to make the jump up to Cup, but, it seems that things could be going in a different direction.

Matt Weaver reported that Chandler Smith may want to go back to Toyota in 2024, and he could take one of the open seats at Joe Gibbs Racing. A lot of hoops would need to be jumped through for that to happen, but, that calls into question whether or not Smith is even a candidate to go Cup racing at Kaulig. This is where Ty Dillon comes in.

Why Ty Dillon May Want the Ride

As strange as it may sound, making the move to Kaulig Racing could be seen as an upgrade for Ty Dillon. He goes from an organization that has only won one race, which was due to a perfectly timed lightning strike, to an organization that just won a race last weekend. The bottom line is that Kaulig equipment can win a race under the right circumstances.

On top of that, it truly is the last chance in this Silly Season for Dillon to have a competitive ride in the Cup Series. If this does not work out, his next Cup Series option is, at best, a second Rick Ware Racing car, or part-time with a team like Live Fast before he has to start looking at Xfinity.

Kaulig also has a connection with Richard Childress Racing through ECR Engines, who provides Kaulig Racing’s engines in both the Cup and Xfinity Series. As is well documented, Ty Dillon is Richard Childress’ grandson, and Childress has provided the younger Dillon with opportunities before. Dillon drove for Childress in both Trucks and Xfinity, and Dillon’s first full-time Cup Series ride was with an RCR-aligned team, Germain Racing.

Dillon has not driven with an RCR-related race team since 2022 when he drove for Petty-GMS, whose ECR Engines supplies engines. Therefore, maybe he wants to step out and develop his career on his own, so, maybe this does not happen. However, the competitiveness of Kaulig Racing is what makes this place potentially attractive to Ty Dillon.

Why Kaulig May Want Ty Dillon

There are two aspects of Dillon that Kaulig needs to consider: funding and performance. Let’s start with the performance standpoint.

Dillon is far from a star driver, but what he generally has done really well throughout his career is bring the car home in one piece. In his four full-time seasons with Germain Racing, Dillon never had more than four DNFs in a season, and he actually finished all 36 races in 2019. While he had nine DNFs for Petty-GMS in 2022 along with six this year for Spire, two of those Spire DNFs were engine failures, with the other four being accidents.

If Dillon can bring the value of keeping the car in one piece, that goes a long way with race teams. If you keep the car on the track every week that means a race team can count on a driver not costing them money in torn-up race cars.

The other issue is funding, and how much funding Dillon really brings is a question mark. He has primarily used Nations Guard and Ferris Mowers this season as his two primary sponsors with some Gainbridge sprinkled in there alongside other sponsors. Now, how many of those are Dillon sponsors, and how many of those are Spire sponsors?

Dillon does not have one major sponsor who has followed him throughout his career, and that could be what holds him back. If Matt Kaulig is not willing to shell out some cash for a guy who won a Cup Series race, A.J. Allmendinger, why would Kaulig want to do that for the driver who is 33rd in points?

Unless he finds funding, this will not happen for Dillon. However, maybe there is some sponsorship that he brings in that could fill in the gaps Kaulig needs. If Dillon does that, he may be with Kaulig next year.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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