NASCAR: Ty Dillon earns Gaunt Brothers’ No. 96 for Daytona

Dillon will join his younger brother Austin at NASCAR’s premier event, piloting the No. 96 Toyota for Gaunt Brothers Racing.

The Daytona 500 will continue to get a double dose of Dillon.

Toyota Racing Development and Gaunt Brothers Racing announced that Ty Dillon will pilot the latter’s No. 96 Camry at the 2021 Daytona 500 on February 14 (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox). Bass Pro Shops and Black Rife Coffee will provide sponsorship. Dillon, 28, is the younger brother of 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin and grandson of championship team owner Richard Childress.

“Gaunt Brothers Racing has given me a great opportunity to compete in the Daytona 500 and I couldn’t be happier,” Ty Dillon said in a Toyota-issued statement. “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.”

Dillon has spent the past four seasons driving for the single-car squad at Germain Racing, which ceased operations at the end of the 2020 season. He piloted their No. 13 car to half of its dozen top-ten finishes, with his best posting being a third-place spot at last fall’s Talladega event. During the 2019 season, Dillon gave Germain its first two stage wins and added another this season.

The more recent tally earned him eligibility in the Busch Clash, the exhibition race held prior to the 500-mile main event. It’s possible Dillon could partake in the Clash with 23XI Racing, the newly formed team headed by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin, which is also under Toyota’s umbrella, but nothing has been solidified.

Dillon previously earned four wins on the NASCAR Xfinity and Truck series levels, posting a runner-up finish during the latter’s 2013 campaign. He has run well at Daytona’s Cup offerings, earning three top-ten finishes in his last five visits to the oval, including a fourth-place posting in the 400-mile summer event in 2019.

Gaunt Brothers Racing recently wrapped up its first full-time season with Daniel Suarez behind the wheel of their No. 96, with their best finishes being a pair of 18th-place postings at Bristol and Kansas. Suarez and GBR announced that they would part ways in September, with the former driving the No. 99 Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing this season.

“The best way to get a good start to your season is to have a good finish in the Daytona 500,” said Marty Gaunt, president, Gaunt Brothers Racing in the statement “We’ve got a talented driver in Ty Dillon with a strong TRD engine plugged into the best equipment available. Together with Toyota, Bass Pro Shops and Black Rifle Coffee Company, we’re ready to compete and surprise some people.”

Dillon isn’t the only respected name of the circuit making his return to the Cup Series at Daytona. Not only is 2010 winner Jamie McMurray set to run the race in a Spire Motorsports machine, but Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports announced that Derrike Cope plans to run the event in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 15 Chevrolet. Cope, 62, was the upset winner of the 1990 edition. At 62, Cope would be the second oldest driver to ever compete in the Daytona 500, behind only Mark Thompson in 2018.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags