- Associated Press - Friday, November 15, 2013

HOMESTEAD, FLA. (AP) - NASCAR might have another cowboy-hat-wearing champion in its second-tier Nationwide Series.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won his second straight Nationwide title in 2012 and regularly wore a 10-gallon hat whenever he was out of the car.

Now, it’s Austin Dillon and his black hat closing in on the championship. Dillon leads Sam Hornish Jr. by eight points, needing to finish third or better in Saturday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch the title.

“I like to wear them,” Dillon said Friday. “I grew up wearing them when I was little. We would go to Montana horseback riding. I was always a John Wayne fan, huge cowboy fan. I started wearing them heavily. I don’t get paid to wear these hats.”

Dillon gets his hats for free from Charlie 1 Horse, a connection he made at Texas Motor Speedway.

Dillon is one of three NASCAR drivers who typically wear cowboy hats. His younger brother Ty also wears them. Austin knows they all get mocked for them, too.

“Always controversy,” he said. “They’re going to make fun of me if I had a zit on my nose or something like that. I can’t control that. I’m comfortable whatever I do, in my own skin, surround myself with the people I want to be around.”

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