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Ty Dillon gets a Daytona 500 shot

By Alex Andrejev
The Charlotte Observer/TNS

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Ty Dillon will drive for Gaunt Brothers Racing in an attempt to qualify for this year’s Daytona 500, the team announced Tuesday. Dillon, 28, was out of a full-time Cup ride at the end of last season when Germain Racing closed its shop, but he will land in the No. 96 Toyota Camry for GBR, a single-car team, to start the 2021 season.

GBR is not guaranteed entry into the main event and doesn’t have a Cup charter, so Dillon will be competing for one of four open spots in the Daytona 500 field. He’ll be able to enter the main race by finishing the highest of the open cars in either duel or posting a fast qualifying time (the final two open spots are based on the fastest qualifying speeds).

Bass Pro Shops and Black Rifle Coffee Company are sponsoring the car for the race. Bass Pro Shops sponsored Dillon for his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in July 2014 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his three wins in the Truck Series. Dillon has not won in the Cup Series (two top-five finishes) and raced a full-time schedule with Germain from 2017 through last year.

“Gaunt Brothers Racing has given me a great opportunity to compete in the Daytona 500 and I couldn’t be happier,” Dillon said in a team release. “I love superspeedway races and the Daytona 500 is the biggest of them all. Toyota has certainly proven itself in our sport and in the Daytona 500. I’m looking forward to racing with them and reuniting with Bass Pro Shops and Black Rifle Coffee Company.”

Gaunt Brothers Racing said it has put particular emphasis on its superspeedway program in 2021. According to the AP, the team plans to run 10 events in 2021, including Daytona, Talladega and the road course races. Daniel Suarez, now the driver at new Cup team Trackhouse Racing, parted with GBR at the end of the last season.

Gaunt Brothers president Marty Gaunt said the team is ready to “surprise some people.”

“The best way to get a good start to your season is to have a good finish in the Daytona 500,” Gaunt said. “We’ve got a talented driver in Ty Dillon with a strong TRD engine plugged into the best equipment available.”

The Daytona 500 is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 14.

Ty Dillon, driver of the #13 GEICO Chevrolet, walks the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 311 at Dover International Speedway on Aug. 22, 2020 in Dover, Del. Ty Dillon will drive for Gaunt Brothers Racing in an attempt to qualify for this year's Daytona 500.