Dillon Welch rarely runs as much as he would like, but when he runs he stays competitive. (Photo by Brendon Bauman)
TULSA, Okla. – Dillon Welch enjoyed great success in his racing career, first as USAC Kenyon Midget Champion and later as POWRi Midget League Rookie of the Year.
He still enjoys running, but his real work with NBC Sports and MRN Radio now takes up the lion’s share of his time. Given the scarcity of siege time, his performance when opportunities present themselves are universally praised.
By this point, after the final checkered flag was waved in Thursday night’s round at the Chili Bowl Nationals, Welch had finished seventh and was in good shape to qualify for Saturday’s feature.
This leads some to wonder how he does it.
“It’s about surrounding myself with the right people,” he said. “That’s always been for me, even since I started racing on dirt with Bryan Clauson. I didn’t come up the micro ranks or anything like that. I was a pavement kid and I really had no experience with dirt until I had a dwarf.
One aspect of having the right people around him is his team’s ability to give him a comfortable car and thus give him the confidence to drive as hard as the situation calls for. He knew that as the week approached, he was in a good place.
Chad Boat is now recognized as one of the best owners in the sport and with the talented Grant Penn in the fold of his crew chief, Welch was optimistic even before he turned a wheel in Tulsa.
In a weird twist, because he rarely races, he assumes he’s done more laps at Tulsa Expo Raceway than at any other track.
“I know this race track very well,” he said, “and it doesn’t change much from year to year. It is important. This is another variable I don’t have to worry about.
Welch has been at this game long enough to understand how the midget racing landscape has changed. Yet where others lament the current state of affairs, he is far more philosophical.
“Midget racing has always been aggressive,” he said. “and that’s what you should expect. It’s become a very physical form of open-wheel racing, and we all know it when we strap in. If it bothers you that much, you should probably stay home.
Even though Welch’s full-time job involves more NASCR and Indy car racing than short-track work, he still feels like mixing it up behind the wheel helps his career.
“I think in a weird way it gives me more credibility with some of the guys I interview,” he said. “Even on the NASCAR side, they all know I race. It’s not like they treat me any differently than someone who doesn’t run or has never run before, but there is a subconscious connection. It makes me different from your average journalist.
Things are about to get hectic in Welch’s life. Welch and professional racing presenter Hannah Newhouse recently announced their engagement. It takes a lot of planning. Nonetheless, now his goal is to beat the odds and crack the starting field at the 36th annual Chili Bowl Nationals.