What makes Ty Dillon so confident his first NASCAR Cup Series win will happen in 2023

Ben White

Ty Dillon, driver of the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet in NASCAR’s Cup Series for 2023, is excited about the new season that begins with the non-points Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Feb. 5, followed by the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 19.

Dillon, the grandson of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Childress, began his Cup Series career in 2014 and has driven for several teams, including RCR Enterprises, Stewart-Haas Racing, Leavine Family Racing, Germain Racing and Petty GMS Racing with 202 career starts. Thus far, the Lewisville, North Carolina, native continues to search for his first Cup Series victory and feels he will find it this season with crew chief Kevin Bellicourt at his side.

“We’ve already become quick friends even before we became work partners,” Dillon said. “He flew out and spent some time with my family in Washington state and no one has ever asked to do that. I have some family out there that I visited and he wanted to find what’s important in my life.

“The cool thing is we can talk for hours and hours about anything and then we can jump into racing conversations. That makes race conversations even easier. Obviously, we have a lot to learn once the live bullets are flying when the race season begins. Even though he is young like myself, he has been through some different situations and had some success with some great drivers and won races. He is hungry to win but also has humility and a hard work ethic that I appreciate. He isn’t just getting an opportunity for the first time. He has really worked hard and made it to where we are today.”

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Bellicourt has worked with Cup Series drivers Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry, Stewart Friesen, Justin Haley, Jamie McMurray, Josh Bilicki, Landon Cassill and Mike Rockenfeller. A strong relationship between Dillon and Bellcourt may very well produce some strong results during the 36-race Cup Series schedule.

Bellicourt also feels the chemistry between himself and Dillon clicked right off the bat. That’s extremely important in racing when chassis set-ups and race strategies are so important to understand on so many track configurations with what's known as the Gen 7 race car. 

“We were able to kind of hit the ground running at the end of the 2022 season,” Bellicourt said. “We’ve worked on our development and worked on our set-ups and worked on our cars so they fit his driving style. I think everybody has high expectations in January because everyone is undefeated in January. I feel good. I feel we click; I feel we are at the same place in our careers and are close in age. I think we have a lot of similar interests outside of racing. It’s been easy to get along and easy to work together. I’ve had fun so far. I think we are a good fit.”

Dillon has been in driver-team situations where chemistry wasn’t there and when it isn’t, seasons can be difficult to get through. He appreciates what team president Bill Anthony has put together at Spire Motorsports. The dedication and family unity are easy to see, which makes for a stronger, more competitive organization.

“I believe in us, and I believe in our plan that we are going to continue to grow and that we’re all pulling the rope in the same direction. With any opportunity I’ve ever had in the Cup Series, I feel the most excited and the most optimism toward this season,” Dillon said.

Dillon will also drive a minimum of five Xfinity Series races for Childress and RCR Enterprises in 2023 for the first time since 2018. His first race for RCR is scheduled for May 13. Justin Alexander is slated to be his crew chief at RCR for those five races. More races could possibly be added,  

“It’s always fun to go back and race in the Xfinity Series in select races,” Dillon said. “They don’t give us many races anymore but they’re going to pick some good ones for us. Darington is my favorite race track and there’s nothing better. Going back to Darlington there in South Carolina running on the Lady in Black is a challenging race and one that I always look forward to. It’s one that I circle in my heart on the calendar and it's one of my favorite places to go racing.

“It’s been a while but obviously it’s going to be a lot of fun to be back and have the 3 on the door again. That brings back some good memories during my career and having a lot of success.”