If how Austin Dillon’s season is shaping up seems familiar, it’s most likely because it is. With one race remaining on the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule, the North Carolina native has an eight-point edge over Sam Hornish Jr. and an inside line on the title in just his second full-time season, despite not visiting Victory Lane.
Last year, Dillon swept both races at Kentucky Speedway on his way to a third-place finish in the championship points standings, behind only Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler. Additionally, he captured the NASCAR Nationwide Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors by 65 points over Cole Whitt.
Dillon’s past two years in the series are eerily similar to the young gun’s only two full-time seasons in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In 2010, he won at Iowa Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway en route to the series’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, beating out Justin Lofton by 52 points. He finished fifth in the overall standings, by 558 markers (this was prior to the points-per-position system that was instituted before the 2011 season).
The following season, in 2011, Dillon posted victories in the truck series at Nashville Superspeedway and Chicagoland Speedway, and he was able to celebrate his first NASCAR national series championship later that November when he bested Johnny Sauter by six points in the final points standings.