RPW Column: Soft-Spoken Dillon Gannon Definitely Made Noise During ’21 At Orange County

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – WESTPORT, CT – When one starts to talk with Orange County Fair Speedway Street Stock driver Dillon Gannon, it doesn’t take one long to realize what a likeable person he is. Always positive and upbeat, he is one of those drivers that appreciates just being part of the sport.

In his second season of competition in 2021, he started to raise eyebrows in the division with his improvement and speed.

In 2020, Gannon got started in the #33 Camaro. When the Covid restrictions became too harsh, the season at OCFS was cut short with Dillion not getting the seat time that he was hoping for.

Plans for the 2021 season saw fellow team driver, Nick Giardini, moving up to the Rookie Sportsman division. This opened up the seat in the sharp looking #46 Monte Carlo with the “Days of Thunder” scheme for Gannon. And he made the most of that opportunity with consistently fast speed, some podium finishes and a near miss in the Eastern States Street Stock Championship Race.

After a couple of races to feel out the new ride, Gannon gad his best finish to date on May 15th. After dropping back a couple of spots at the start, Gannon raced his way up to 2nd and held that spot until late in the race and finished 3rd behind Jim Hajkowski and Bob Sleight. And it was easy to see what a great moment it was for him to be standing on that podium for the first time.

Gannon made the podium again on July 30th, once again trailing Hajkowski and Sleight. As the regular season wound down, Gannon placed 8th in the final Street Stock Standings.

At the Eastern States Weekend, the 46 team was primed and ready. Gannon won the 2nd heat which placed him on the outside pole for the championship race. Grabbing the lead at the start, Gannon looked like he was well on his way to collecting his first ever win, and doing it on the big stage of ESW. He was able to hold off the formidable challenges of Sleight on quite a few restarts.

When the caution came out with one lap to go, it gave Sleight one final chance to get a run on Gannon. Dillion had already survived numerous restart attempts. But with a veteran championship caliber driver like Sleight restarting on your side, that one final chance might be all he needs.

Sleight got the run on the outside of Gannon on that final restart to take the win by less than half a second.

One might have expected a young driver that had just lost their first ever feature win in the final lap to perhaps be quite downcast after the race. But Gannon was nothing but smiles after the race.

“The finish didn’t bother me at all. We ran great. I’m still a new guy out there. Bob is a great driver and a great friend,” Gannon said. “Finishing 2nd to him was a pretty good day.”

When one stops to think of it, it was a good race for Dillon. He took all but one lap of the fairly substantial lap money including the halfway bonus and 2nd place purse. So it was his best ever racing payday.

In summing up his 2021 season, Gannon had this to say.

“It was a learning experience for us this year. We are still trying to figure things out. We battled with the Camaro last year. The Monte Carlo was a huge difference. Before, we were just winging it. We got some good advice from Jay Peppin and we made some good strides over the course of the season.”

Gannon is very grateful to Limestone Service Station and Nick Giardini for the opportunities he has given him in racing.

Somewhere down the line, Dillion has some hopes of competing in the 358 Small Block Modified division. But for the time being, there are some unfinished goals in the Street Stocks that he wants to accomplish. If his upward trend continues in 2022, it is very likely to see him on the step of the OCFS podium holding the checkered flag. But whatever the outcome, Dillion will most likely be smiling and happy to be part of the sport and enjoying the great camaraderie that we see in the in the OCFS Street Stock division.

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