|Dillon is 30-to-1 to win the 2014 Daytona 500|
Q. WHEN YOU LOOK AROUND, SEE THE DALE EARNHARDT T-SHIRTS, ET CETERA, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
AUSTIN DILLON: The legend of Dale has lived on for a long time and is going to continue to live on forever. Dale Earnhardt is not just famous because of the number. He is Dale Earnhardt.
He was a hero in everybody’s mind, including myself.
As far as Dale, Dale is going to fly here forever. That’s the coolest thing about everything that’s going on.
Q. GET YOU MORE FIRED UP OR DIFFERENCE IN FEEL NOW THAT YOU’RE ACTUALLY HERE, OR HAS IT BEEN A STEADY PROGRESSION?
AUSTIN DILLON: Been a pretty steady progression. Media Day gets us tuned in. The first thing is when we get over here in the garage, get to walk around, I saw the haulers pulling in a few minutes ago, so that was pretty cool, pretty special.
Q. REGARDING THE LOOK OF THE CAR
AUSTIN DILLON: I haven’t really gotten to take a real good look at it.
I think we respect everything that the Earnhardt family has to say. Dale Jr. and everybody has been very supportive of it. It’s been a good thing so far. Everything’s been great. Just continue to move on with what we’re going with.
You know, I think there was something about the number and the color. That is one thing my grandfather said from the beginning, that we weren’t going to have it black. So luckily the Cheerios car and Dow, everybody, our sponsors, have some black in the color with their sponsor, exactly not a percentage that’s more than 50%. I think the most we’ve got on a paint scheme is 60%. That is one thing. But we’re definitely respectful and going to keep it color sensitive.
Q. ABOUT DALE EARNHARDT, JR. DRIVING IN THAT CAR
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I’ve always appreciated that. Junior is an awesome guy. I’ve got to spend time and sit down and talk with him and learn so much from him also.
I feel like for me experience is going to be big leaning on the people around me. I’ve got a really strong family. Leaning on those guys is very important.
Q. TO THOSE THAT HAVE RESERVATIONS, WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THEM?
AUSTIN DILLON: Everybody’s got their own opinion. I feel like hopefully we can win them over as time goes on. That’s all you can do.
Hopefully they’re open enough to take a look at everything that we’re doing. I think as far as performance and moving forward, hopefully we can win them over.
Q. HOW MEANINGFUL IS IT FOR YOU TO BE ABLE TO DRIVE FOR YOUR GRANDFATHER AT THIS LEVEL?
AUSTIN DILLON: It’s great. To be able to work for a company, every time I cross the railroad tracks in Welcome, North Carolina, it’s special. I’ve enjoyed being a part of RCR.
The other day it was really awesome to be able to be part of the kickoff luncheon. The guys were fired up. I think it’s a new life at RCR.
Q. WHAT KIND OF ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITY DO YOU HAVE BECAUSE YOU’RE PART OF THIS NASCAR FAMILY?
AUSTIN DILLON: I feel like for me it’s really more the employees at RCR that I know. I’ve grown up with those guys, know how much heart and soul they put into the racecars.
I said it at our kickoff lunch. We have a great house at RCR. When I cross that bridge, that’s our house.
When we come here, my job and our teams’ jobs are to represent our house. Hopefully we bring our house and represent it well at the track. That’s what we try and do every time we bring our stuff to the racetrack.
Q. REGARDING FANS AND THE NO. 3, BEING DELIBERATELY WRECKED
AUSTIN DILLON: It’s racing. I think I’ve been doing it forever. People get into it, have battles, go hard each and every weekend. You have those times when you’re racing hard out there and stuff happens.
I think we do a good job of handling it ourselves on the track hopefully.
Q. WHAT DID YOU AND YOUR GRANDFATHER TALK ABOUT TO CONVINCE HIM YOU WERE READY?
AUSTIN DILLON: I think both of us for years now, running the 3 in the last four years, it kind of prepared us for any kind of question or opportunity that arises.
The biggest thing is being respectful to all the family that is involved and also just, you know, taking this opportunity and hoping that fans are embracing it the right way. We’re trying to continue the legacy of the No. 3. I think we’ve done a good job of that so far.
Q. ON LEGACY OF THE NO. 3
AUSTIN DILLON: I think Dale was so important in driving that number. He was the guy that made that number what it is today.
But like I said earlier, Dale Earnhardt is Dale Earnhardt not only because of the number, but because he was a hero and created so many things for this sport. The number for me, hopefully I can continue the legacy that it has and keep on moving on with it.
Q. DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WILL SEE IT COMING UP IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR AND WILL HAVE AN AUTOMATIC REACTION, FEEL INTIMIDATED AND PULL OVER FOR YOU?
AUSTIN DILLON: No, not at all (laughter). I still have a long way to go in this sport. This is my rookie year. One day, if we’re winning championships, competing for wins, maybe it will happen.
Q. TALK ABOUT THE ROOKIE CLASS YOU’RE GOING UP AGAINST.
AUSTIN DILLON: I got to stay focused on what my goals are this year. Rookie of the Year in the other two series. I definitely want to accomplish that in the Cup Series. I feel like the competition is stout. I feel like every year I’ve been in Nationwide or Truck, there’s been some really good classes. Then also last year battling for a championship. Hopefully what I learned going through that with the stout competition we had last year in Nationwide will help me this year going forward.
Q. ON BATTLES FOR NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES AND NATIONWIDE SERIES CHAMPIONSHIPS
AUSTIN DILLON: I can’t remember the Truck and Nationwide. I was more focused on last year’s Nationwide championship battle. Having Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers, Regan Smith, guys that have full-time Cup experience, battling them in Nationwide was very tough. My battle in the Truck Series, I think Kligerman was there, a few other guys that year, too. I can’t remember, though.
Q. HOW DO YOU THINK THE SUM OF YOUR EXPERIENCES, CHAMPIONSHIP RUNS, SERVES YOU GOING FORWARD IN THE SERIES?
AUSTIN DILLON: Hopefully it means something. You know, I feel like the mental stability that you gain going through a championship battle, I think you can never lose that. It’s a championship. I feel like that will help going forward.
There’s definitely the new Chase presenting a definitely new outcome. I won the championship last year without winning a race. It’s a different mentality. I can change the way I go about things, for sure. I’ll have to go through that this year obviously.
I’m looking forward to that opportunity. I think it gives a lot of chance and more going after it, more intensity to the races.
It seems the best way I can relate to that is when I go back and run a Truck race with no points, you can really get after the car and really challenge yourself to get everything out of it. Not that you’re not getting everything out of the car when it’s a points race, but you’re definitely grounded in thinking what it means where you’re running and the positioning. I think that’s where the Chase, the new format, presents a lot of action and pushing yourself.
Q. ON THE NUMBER OF RACES HE WILL BE RUNNING
AUSTIN DILLON: Actually the same amount as far as running my modified, all the races that are available. I might take the last night off depending on where we are in points. The last night doesn’t count in points. Hopefully we can win it off. That ends Monday.
For me, as far as the year, I’m going to run some Nationals races during the Summer Nationals, Monday, Tuesday,Wednesday, then get to the racetrack. I’m still focused on that. I think it really helps me as far as being able to get in those cars and just have some fun.
- Team Chevy