CHEVY NSCS AT DAYTONA MEDIA DAY: Austin Dillon Press Conf Transcript

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
MEDIA DAY
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
FEBRUARY 16, 2016

AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 DOW CHEVROLET SS met with media at Daytona International Speedway during Media Day. Full Transcript:

HOW WAS YOUR SUPER BOWL EXPERIENCE?

“It was fun. I only got there Saturday night. I had an appearance in Michigan Saturday. I got over there and went to the Direct TV party. It was a crazy party. It was the second time I’ve been to that because I went to New York with NASCAR and did the New York Super Bowl, which was a crazy event. The coolest part is just the effort that goes into all that. They’re starting now for the next Super Bowl and it’s amazing the amount of people that come to it. I had fun. It was definitely not the results I wanted because of my team. I watched them all year long and it just didn’t look the same. They didn’t seem like they were loose and having fun. I know if I’m in a championship mode, I need to remember that because you change what you do up until that period of time that got you there. You can’t forget what got you there and how your emotions were leading up to each game. It was cool. I learned from that. And then also, I sat in the sun; so that stadium was a little weird. I had to sit in the sun the whole time, up until halftime, and burn up. But, I don’t know if I ever go to a game in San Francisco to sit in the shade side.”

I’M SURE YOUR BOSS DRIVES A HARD BARGAIN. WITH THE CHARTER SYSTEM NOW AND THE WAY PURSES HAVE CHANGED, DID THAT REQUIRE SOME CONTRACT WORK?

“Yeah, it’s a little bit different setting for me obviously, with my grandfather (Richard Childress) being the team owner, I have no agent that works through my grandfather. It’s me and him sitting down and trying to figure out what’s fair. We kind of have a really good understanding of each other and where we’re at on things. I think it’s a lot of great things for the owners because my grandfather has put in a lot of hard work and effort into this and he has to worry about so many families. I have to worry about my family. But he’s got 500 employees at RCR and keeping that place going every night. I think there’s a lot of sleepless nights. For the owners, it definitely puts him in a lot better position as far as moving forward and keeping a lot of people employed. They can have something to lean on now, where it’s not year to year based on sponsorship. You have something that’s truly a franchise opportunity for what we’ve got.”

DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING IN THE SPRINT UNLIMITED THAT YOU CAN TAKE TO THIS WEEK?

“Yeah, I think so. And I said that last year. It’s just a small group of cars, so it’s hard to tell. But in a smaller group, when it got to 23, I felt like the middle lane was pretty solid. You could gain some speed through there. And that helped my car. We struggled a little bit when we got air on our nose. So, if I ever got to the front of the pack, it didn’t seem like my car could hold a lead. We kind of got shuffled out a couple of times and went front & back and front & back. This is an older car. It’s the car we sat on the pole with two years ago that was our Sprint Unlimited car. So, now we’ve built a brand new car. The 500 car seems to be pretty fast. We were 8th in qualifying and I’m proud of that. We’ll see what we’ve got for the Duels. I just want to take care of that and make sure we have that car for Sunday’s race.”

WITH THE EXCEPTION OF JEFF GORDON, THERE HAVE BEEN THREE ROOKIES ON THE POLE IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS. HOW DOES THAT WORK?

“Shoot.  I don’t know. That’s impressive. It definitely works out for Media Day. It’s impressive. A lot of effort goes into those guys because I think you want to start off with a splash and I think guys really put the effort into that car because they know that if they can start the year off on a good note, it definitely takes the pressure off of that driver for quite a while.”

HAVE YOU GOTTEN THE DIGITAL DASH FIGURED THE WAY YOU WANT IT NOW? ARE YOU ADAPTING TO THAT WELL?

“The digital dash is tough, especially pit road. Because it’s so accurate, it makes it tough to follow. I think they’re trying to make a light bar where it’s a little less…  There’s a lot of jump that goes on it and I struggled with it at Homestead last year and a little bit in the Sprint Unlimited race because it moves so fast. It’s not delayed enough to where you can really stay on your time. I think you’ll see some speeding penalties with guys trying to push it too much. If there’s any kind of buck in the motor, or if it’s not smooth, that dash will read differently and you kind of get scared and you’re not using the advantage of it. So, we definitely have to work on that timing. I think that’s a big part of it.”

WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT JUMPS?

“So, if you’re just trying to be smooth, your main goal when you’re coming down pit road is to hold your foot in one place and not have any kind of bucking when you have a low gear; and it’s kind of hard to keep it at that. The motor doesn’t want to run good at that rpm. So, they read really close whereas our other ones weren’t as accurate. It was kind of a slower pace on the lights. Now, these are dead accurate to everything that happens on the motor. So it just kind of jumps back and forth. I’m looking at those lights and if I’m all green and I have one red, I’m good. Well, if it jumps to two, I’m speeding. So, if I might apply a little more pressure and it goes to three red really quick, it might scare me and I’ll lift to give up some and it might be too much from where I needed to be. So, it’s just following that is kind of a new process.”

CHASE ELLIOTT HAS STEPPED INTO A VERY FAMOUS CAR OF A VERY FAMOUS DRIVER, CAN YOU RELATE TO THAT?

“Yeah, I’ve had a similar story. You go through everything that he’ll go through this week with a lot of media and a lot of different things. Chase has done a good job. He’s been around it his whole life. He’s just like myself and he knows what he’s stepping into because he’s seen his dad do it. He’ll do a good job and handle everything he’s got to take care of. He’s got a really fast race car and guys that run really well around him on that Hendrick team. Different team, same story I guess you could say. He’ll be fun to watch.”

WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE HIM?

“It’s going to be tougher than what you think. It’s definitely the best 40 drivers every week. You expect to compete with them, but you learn over a bit of time that it’s going to take an extra effort from you more than what you thought. At least that’s take.”

DID YOU LOOK AT THE FENCE AT THE START/FINISH LINE DURING PRACTICE?

‘I never looked at it during practice, but I did at some point in time when I was walking on the grid during qualifying day. I just kind of looked down at that area. It was the first time I’d seen it since the last time we were here. It was a crazy crash that I was a part of. The good part is that we all go through a safety meeting at the beginning of the year. I thought I was going to be in that safety meeting, but I wasn’t. I usually make the highlight reel in the safety meeting every year. But, I was safe. I had a bruised tailbone; that was it. So, for a wreck like that to get through it, shows you how safe our cars are and we’re only making improvements and I think NASCAR has shown us some more improvements. I hope they implement them pretty fast because that will definitely make our cars even safer.”

ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THE ANGLE OF THE SEATS?

“The angle of the seats is one thing, but I think we’re looking at a foot box that’s kind of enclosed more. I would like them to implement that pretty fast. The faster, the better. It was like a little bit more weight on the car, but for me I think we’d give up weight any day to make the car safer. So, they tested it and it was better. They’ve shown the tests. I think the faster we can get all of our team owners and competition directors to implement that, it’s going to help; especially like the wreck that Kyle (Busch) had here last year with his feet. I was fortunate. I’m kind of short. But I definitely want that foot area enclosed and better than what it is now.”

DOES IT IMPACT THE STIFFNESS OF THE FRONT OF THE CAR, WHICH WAS THE CONCERN 15 YEARS AGO?

“Right, yeah. I don’t know if it really will impact….   It shouldn’t.  It’s just a thicker piece in the cockpit area. So, what’s going to hit is still the same material. This is just enclosing what’s around our feet.”

INAUDIBLE

“You’ve got a group of guys that have been in this sport for a long period of time as far as drivers go, and they like where they’re at. They don’t want to be challenged. And you want to put yourself in that position to challenge them every week. And, knocking into that group to get that respect is tough. You gain that respect over years and working at it and putting that hard work in and never refusing to lose and getting to that area. So, I feel like I’ve got a team that has built confidence in me this year and (crew chief) Slugger has done a good job of that. It’s the closest team I’ve had to my XFINITY team, I feel like, that we won a championship with. I’m on the same page as them and we have the same goals to out-work everybody around us to make it happen to run up front.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE GROUP OF DRIVERS IN THEIR TWENTIES THAT ARE HERE NOW IS AS GOOD AS NASCAR AS HAD?

‘I do. I’m excited for our sport. I think that we have some really quality drivers coming up through the sport and yeah, it’s as good as I’ve seen it and been around. Chase Elliott is going to bring that. My brother (Ty Dillon) is going to bring a lot of heat to that. And then you’ve got Ryan Blaney. It’s a fun group. A lot of new faces are going to be coming in and I think our fans should tune-in and really watch that. You’re going to be able to grab a hold of something at the start of its team, just like my love for the Panthers. Not many people knew about that franchise and now at this point in time, a lot of people know about them. So, it’s kind of one of those periods of time where you get on, you find a guy, you latch onto him and you make it that love for him like you created with Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon and the guys (like) Tony Stewart, all these guys have created fan bases started at the same point we’re starting now.”

I’M NOT ASKING YOU TO PLACE MONEY ON ANYBODY, BUT OTHER THAN YOURSELF, WHO IS GOING TO BE THE ‘NEXT GUY’?

“Well, I’m going to place money on me, as much as I can, because I’m going to try to outwork everybody. I’m going to put the effort in. I don’t like to lose. And when it comes to my guys, I’m going to be in there working with them and trying to figure out how to make myself better because I know that it takes a lot as a driver to go to work. You can’t just expect the talent to carry you. You’ve got to take advantage of everything as far as pit road and being accurate on that and just control what you can control to the best of your ability. So, If I can do that, I want to go out there and run well.”

INAUDIBLE (ON THE CHALLENGES OF BEING A SUBSTITUTE DRIVER)

“I think the hardest part is just getting in with a new team and new group of guys. You don’t know them but you want to show that respect to them because they’ve been successful before you’ve come in there. And then also getting comfortable in that race car. The No. 14 team made it really easy for me. All those guys are easy-going and we had a blast. It was more about just having fun. I thought we almost won Talladega but it went flying on the last lap there, too. But they asked me, at Talladega, to bring back the steering wheel or the trophy, so I brought back the steering wheel. It’s kind of the atmosphere you’re in and how good you want to make it. Steve Addington did a good job for me when I was over there. It’s more about having fun and enjoying the time that I’m going to get this experience. Whoever gets to run it, they need to take that same approach.

“We were pretty fast actually, at the races we were at. So, it made it pretty fun. We weren’t really nervous about it. The speed was there and he made it a good atmosphere. Everybody wants to have a part of a fun atmosphere. It was just easy. I don’t know why. I think it was that I had nothing to lose at that point. It was my first race. I hadn’t had a full time ride yet, so I felt pretty comfortable. It was coming off of a good year in XFINITY running for the championship and it was just a ‘go out there and have fun’ kind of deal and that’s the way you’ve got to look at it.”

INAUDIBLE

“To fill in for one of the legends in our sport I think is very cool. Greg Zipadelli is over there and his experience was cool also for me. He was very businesslike about things. It was a different atmosphere and you learn from everything you do and every experience you have and that experience taught me different things about how people run things and how different it is to run for my family race team to another race team and kind of get that experience was good for me to learn what it’s like for other guys to be out there racing and with their fighting. The biggest this was just how regimented everything was. It was very different from that way I’d been about things. So, I enjoyed that and we had a fun time.”

YOU MENTIONED THAT THE CONTRACT SITUATION WAS DIFFERENT BECAUSE YOUR GRANDFATHER IS YOUR BOSS. BECAUSE OF THAT AND THE WAY YOU GREW UP, DO YOU THINK YOU SPEND MORE TIME AT THE SHOP THAN OTHER DRIVERS DO?

“Yeah, I live five minutes from the race shop, I think. I’ve been in the area for a long time. I look at it as a family business. One day I want to take over that family business and be involved in it in some way. Me and my brother both do. So, it’s one of those things where you don’t want to have people talking negatively about anything that your business has. So, you want positive input. You want to make it better. And so, the only way to do that is to have a positive outlook, go out there and go to work, and I’ve watched my grandfather work his butt of his entire career and lifetime, and to see the enthusiasm he brings to the shop every day is fun because at his age, I don’t know how he’s not tired. It’s crazy. For me, I want to go out there and just make his business and his legacy carry on and grow.”

DO YOU SEE THE SPONSOR COMMITMENTS THAT YOU’RE REQUIRED TO FILL TAKING AWAY FROM THAT SHOP TIME IN A NEGATIVE WAY?

“I don’t think it’s negative because that’s the reason we’re where we’re at today. Our sport has created this so we have a big following. That’s a driver part of it. Even though my grandfather probably does more appearances than I do, in a year; his calendar is full of appearances. I know what I have to fulfill. It’s a part of our sport and I don’t think it will ever go away. That’s why I live 5 minutes from the shop. When I have time, I go over there. I workout in the gym a lot and try to get to know as many guys as I can, not just the road guys, but the guys that are building the cars back at the shop.”

DO YOU LIKE THE NASCAR OVERTIME RULE?

“I really didn’t even know anything about it until right before the Unlimited race and my spotter asked me if I knew where it was and it was somewhere on the backstretch. That was a quick change. I think it was big. I know that the driver council was proud of that rule. They kind of came up with it. It’s something cool and different. I’m looking forward to see what it brings to our sport and hopefully I win a race off of it.”

ON RCR’S XFINITY SERIES PROGRAM

“Our race cars have gotten good and we have a quality group of crew chiefs over there. That confidence bled over to the Cup Series, I think, the second half of the year because it showed everybody that I can win against the same drivers that are in the Cup Series running the Xfinity races. We want to have that same development this year in the Cup Series.”

SINCE YOUR ACCIDENT HERE LAST YEAR, DO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO SAFETY OR ARE YOU STILL TRYING TO FOCUS ON CLIMBING THE LADDER?

“Also, working with a group like Dow, a lot of what they go into is safety. That’s a huge part of their company. So for me, learning more about safety and technology and what’s put into our sport has been fun. I enjoyed the safety meeting and learning about the technology that we have at NASCAR to use. The seat angles was interesting to me and the data systems and cad systems that go into the technology of what happens when you do wreck? What parts of your body move? And which ones have not move and keep sustained? So the safety and technology of having a partner like Dow has been fun learning about it. A lot of that safety process comes from their company and Dow working close to NASCAR and making our sport safer. I enjoy it and I want to make it safer. I’ve seen what kind of wreck I went through and definitely I’m glad the sport was where it was when that wreck happened as far as safety goes, and also the good Lord looking out for me. But, I think we can advance from that wreck and you’ll see maybe even when a car is done it doesn’t look as bad as what my car looked like. The more we can kind of mold that car to get through a wreck like that, that would be special.”

THEY MOVED THE POSITION OF THE MOUNTING ON THE CROTCH BELTS AND THE BELT THAT GOES UP THE MIDDLE IN CASE YOU FLIP, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA IF THAT HELPED IN YOUR CRASH AT ALL?

“I’m glad that we had that for sure. They showed me all the numbers from the crash. But they don’t have exactly where that helped. My tailbone was sore from that wreck, so I don’t know where that came from unless when I was upside down and Brad (Keselowski) hit me, if it kind of popped me back in the seat. That was one question I still had was why that was. But I’m sure after all those hit, everything was loose. But, definitely the crotch belt, being upside down kept me in the seat. I remember unbuckling my seat and getting out and crawling out the window and it was still hooked tight and everything was good.”

DRIVERS DON’T LIKE CHANGES TO THEIR BELTS

“It can be uncomfortable. It’s just extra work. It’s funny when you think about it and had a crash like I had, you don’t even try and think about that. You want to work on that stuff. Before that, it’s like yeah, let’s plug it up. Get it in there and figure it out. And then you have something like I went through, then wow, I’m thankful that’s going into that and the force of NASCAR saying you have to run this and you have to have it in your car. So, that was a good thing that I had it buckled-up.”

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