Austin Dillon grew up in a NASCAR family, the son of a former driver and the grandson of Richard Childress.
So once he got in a race car, he knew what to do. He was a rookie of the year in the K&N Pro Series East as an 18-year-old, ran a couple of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races the next year and, last season he set a truck series rookie record with seven poles and won twice.
That's what you call a fast start to a career.
But right now, it's not fast enough.
Dillon is second in the points standings as the trucks series heads to Nashville. Call it a racer's mentality, but Dillon can't help but think he could be doing better.
"Truthfully, I feel like we should have three wins by now, at least Iowa," he said this week in a conference call with reporters. "That was definitely a win we needed to have."
Last week, he led the most laps, but a bad pit stop with 40 laps to go wound up costing him a chance at a win.
Two weeks ago at Kentucky, he was second only to Kyle Busch, which is saying something.
In June, he started third at Texas Motor Speedway and led 46 laps before contact with Matt Crafton left him with a 26th-place finish.
A week earlier, he had started on the pole at Kansas and finished 12th.
"My grandfather pushed all year this winter saying 'sophomore slump' is something that all drivers get after a good year," Dillon said. "I'll tell you what -- I don't know if we're having a sophomore slump, but it's been hard to finish this year."
His career is young, but it requires as much mental discipline as any veteran driver's career. When the bad pit stop cost him the win at Iowa (where last year he won his first career NASCAR race), he had to rally for second.
"Yeah, I felt like I handled it well," he said. "I was frustrated after the race. But those guys are out there each and every week, and they make sure my equipment is top-notch. ...What happened was on the front changer's gun, he forgot his gun, had to use a different gun that week, and it ended up breaking or something happened where the lugs couldn't come off," Dillon said.
"He's always prepared and stuff. He does a great job in the shop every week. It was just one of those times where it didn't work out."
Later this year, Dillon will make his Sprint Cup debut at Kansas. And the Nationwide Series is probably next.
But he thinks he can make a push for a championship in the trucks series, where Johnny Sauter leads him by 22 points.
"We had the truck to beat at Texas, Kentucky and Iowa, so really the last three races, we should have won," Dillon said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to put some wins together soon."
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407