NASCAR fans got quite a show on Saturday when Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick blasted both the RCR organization and two of the organization's up-and-coming drivers, Austin and Ty Dillon.
Given his lame-duck status with the team (Harvick leaves for Stewart-Haas Racing at season's end), he does have a little extra freedom in vocalizing his opinion on such matters. However, he took it to a whole new level by blasting the Dillon brothers, who are the grandsons of the organization's namesake, Richard Childress (per USA Today):
(Dillon) just dumped me...Exactly the reason why I'm leaving RCR because you've got those kids coming up, and they've got no respect for what they do in this sport and they've had everything fed to them with a spoon.
So I cut him slack all day, and he just dive-bombs me in there, dumps me. It's a shame you've got to get taken out by some rich kid like that.
There you have it, folks. It's out in the open now. Sure, he apologized later, but can you really take something like that to heart when it's a given that the Dillon brothers have become two of NASCAR's most polarizing figures?
Granted, both brothers have found a fair amount of success behind the wheel. Austin has Rookie of the Year awards in both the Camping World Truck Series (where he has five wins) and the Nationwide Series (where he has won twice), and he is the 2011 CWTS champion. He is set to take over the iconic No. 3 in the Sprint Cup Series next season. Ty is the 2011 ARCA champion and the 2012 Rookie of the Year in the Camping World Truck Series where he holds two wins to his name.
But a prevalent notion among the NASCAR nation is that the duo are nothing but a couple of rich kids who only have access to the best equipment in the garage because their grandfather happens to run one of the most iconic race teams in NASCAR history. One person who is quick to (at least try to) dispel that notion is none other than Childress himself:
What happened on the track was one thing...but the comments afterwards is where I’m really upset. … I’ll never apologize for giving my grandsons an opportunity, just like the France family, the Earnhardt family, the Wood brothers. You go down the list of the people that have been given opportunities.
All of them didn’t make it. You’ve got to go out and earn what you’ve got, the opportunity in life to succeed. And these boys earned it.
It should be noted that the Frances, the Earnhardts and the Wood brothers were all a part of NASCAR during a different era, where hard work and innovation guaranteed a spot at the table, as opposed to this day and age where money easily supersedes talent. That's not to say that the Dillons don't have talent. They're proven winners in NASCAR and that should say something.
But let's look at something else. Tony Stewart drove a tow truck. Denny Hamlin installed trailer hitches. Dale Earnhardt Jr lived in a double-wide and worked at his dad's dealership doing oil changes. Those guys worked for the place at the table. They got their hands dirty and they earned their spot.
Meanwhile, Austin currently attends High Point University (not a bad thing at all, I strongly encourage secondary education) on a part-time basis with a major in Communication (as a Communication grad this is a highly underrated field of study), co-chairs the Reagan Foundation's National Youth Leadership Committee and also happened to play in the 2002 Little League World Series.
It seems like a full plate, yet he still finds time to sport an ungodly ridiculous cowboy hat and go, "I'm an outlaw" every chance he gets. He doesn't really seem concerned with fixing the notion that he's nothing but a spoiled grandpa's boy. It's more or less a matter of flash to the 23-year-old, or so it seems.
Ty seems to be a little better. He's the quieter, more reserved of the two. He doesn't have his hand in anything but racing, and that makes him the more tolerable of the two to the fans. But it doesn't change the fact that both brothers are starting to gain a similar reputation to the Busch brothers.
In November 2012 Austin happened to get into a post-race tiff with Denny Hamlin following the Nationwide race at Texas. After the incident, Hamlin made it a point to make his opinion heard by telling ESPN afterwards that "He (Austin) got his ride because of his name."
Given the era of racing we live in now, it would be hard to disprove that stigma lingering over the Dillons even if we saw for ourselves the blood and sweat they claimed they put into the sport.
Austin is the kind of driver to let it get to his head that he drives the No. 3, especially after the success that that number has seen. Although Ty is more of a racer, he still seems to rely too much on his older brother or his grandpa behind the scenes.
Things could be better for the two, but it will be entirely up to them.
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