While many full-time drivers focus solely on racing, that isn’t true for the Robeline, LA Driver. He’s also balancing his time at the track with his business—CDR Race Cars. It’s one of his many challenges as the Series swings into fall at Atomic Speedway Sept. 29-30.
“It’s tough,” Dillard said. “It’s probably why you don’t see me run 100-plus races a year. I love racing and love what I do, but I’m lucky to be able to drive for someone like [Shane Sprinkle] who’s respectful of my time with my family and my business.
“We take a lot of pride in what we do with our modified program. We started this deal about a year and a half ago with the intention of building a handful for some of my closer customers, and it blew up way faster than I intended. We’re on car number 25 right now, and with a lot of deposits in, it’s going to get us well into next year.”
That wide-open approach to his business and racing comes amid a mid-season chassis change. Earlier this year, Dillard bought a Longhorn Chassis, and It didn’t take long for him to find success. He won a preliminary Feature at the Dairyland Showdown at Mississippi Thunder Speedway.
Since then, he’s been trying to find the right comfort level behind the wheel.
“It was good right out of the box,” Dillard said. “I got a win, and from then on out, it’s just been getting myself comfortable, what I like, and what adjustments I make throughout the night. I just kind of did all of my setup-related stuff on my own, so the main thing is getting myself comfortable, and in the last few weeks, I feel like we’ve made a lot of headway.
“We’ve had good speed early in the night in Qualifying and Heat Races. But I had to figure out where I was going wrong with the adjustments I made later in the night. Hopefully, it’ll lead to some more speed in the Feature.”
One factor that has eased the stress of balancing a chassis change and his business is the consistency of his crew. Donnie Pederson has been his crew chief since 2016, and the two have found plenty of success together—including Dillard’s four World of Outlaws victories. Pederson is also responsible for the team’s weekly maintenance, a vital part of racing on a national tour.
“We’ve obviously shared a lot of success together,” Dillard said. “He keeps our stuff very nice, and we never have mechanical failures because of something falling off. Some stuff is out of our hands that may cause a DNF, but anything related to his job we’ve never suffered a DNF for. That makes a big difference in running for points.
“He’s been a huge part of our success. For a while, it’s been just me and him.”
However, in 2023, it hasn’t been just Dillard and Pederson.
Colbey Richman joined the team in 2023, bringing experience to Dillard’s racing operation after working with four-time World of Outlaws champion Josh Richards. Dillard said the addition to his team has been a great asset.
“He’s a hard worker. He keeps our rig and everything looking nice and clean,” Dillard said. “Our tires. He’s always ahead of them. He’s always looking for ways to improve what he does. Everybody just gets along good, and everything is clicking pretty good right now.
“I just have a really good group of guys right now. It’s a plus to have them, and it definitely makes my life much easier.”
Along with Pederson and Richman on board, he also has help at home with the business. Scottie Dubois works in the shop running the Modified department of CDR Race Cars and assembles the cars for each customer. Having Dubois working on the business side of things allows Dillard to focus when he’s on the road.
As the team builds momentum toward the World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Nov. 1-4, Dillard isn’t satisfied with his 2023 results. However, he said he’s starting to feel more comfortable behind the wheel of his Longhorn, which has him looking ahead to 2024.
“It was a struggle swapping cars in the middle of the year,” Dillard said. “Before that, I felt like I’ve never been the best in Florida, so I always get behind there. Naturally, I’d like to have some better runs and more wins than we’ve had. My car owners deserve better results than we’re getting, but we’re working hard.
“Am I satisfied right now? No. But getting acquainted with a new car in the middle of the season just took me time to figure out what I needed. I wouldn’t give myself the best grade, but it’s definitely got me looking forward to next year. We’ve been building a notebook with these Longhorns, and I feel like we’ve found a lot of speed the last few weeks.”
Dillard is closing in on the end of his busiest season as a World of Outlaws CASE Late Models driver, with a chance to claim a top 10 spot in the final points standings. He trails 2015 Series champion Shane Clanton by 60 points with nine races remaining and has an opportunity to earn $40,000 at season’s end—a $3,000 bump from where he is now.
No matter where he finishes, though, he’ll work until that checkered flag flies at Charlotte.
We’re wide open all the time,” Dillard said.
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