Ty Dillon and the #96 Gaunt Brothers Racing team will return to the NASCAR Cup Series scene for Sunday’s Food City Dirt Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway. The race will be the first in the Cup Series for both driver and team since the Daytona International Speedway Road-course race, the second race of the 2021 season, in February. Sunday’s race will be the seventh race of the season but the first for NASCAR’s premier series on dirt since 1970.
Gaunt Brothers Racing contested the full 2020 season with Daniel Suarez as driver but opted to scale back to a partial schedule in 2021 with primary focuses on road courses and superspeedways. Meanwhile, Dillon has been relegated to part-time status after the closure of Germain Racing, the team for which he drove full-time between 2017 and 2020. He also is running a partial NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing this season.
“I think it’s a huge opportunity for us,” Dillon said of the dirt race at Bristol. “I think we can win if we do what we know we’re capable of an things go our way. We’re definitely going to go there to win, and I guess going off the wildcard nature of the race, it is such a wildcard that I think anybody, even a single-car team, can have great success.”
Dillon attempted to qualify the #96 for the season-opening Daytona 500 but failed to make the race. He, then, drove the car to a 19th-place finish at the Daytona road course.
Dillon has two top-fives and six top-10 finishes in 163 Cup Series races, to date. He has three wins across the Xfinity and NASCAR Truck series. He has yet to win a race at the Cup level.
The starting grid for Sunday’s race will be set by four 15-lap qualifying races Saturday, the first of those scheduled to take the green flag at approximately 6 p.m. ET. Dillon is one of 39 drivers on the preliminary entry list. The main event is scheduled for an approximate 3:30 p.m. green flag Sunday.