MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
COKE ZERO SUGAR 400
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JULY 5, 2018
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 AMERICAN ETHANOL E15 CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed returning to Daytona in July after wining the 2018 Daytona 500, several fun interviews that have happened to him as a result of the win, the lack of more than six different winners thus far in MENCS competition, and more. Full Transcript:
WHAT’S IT LIKE COMING BACK TO DAYTONA FOR A SUMMER RACE AS THE DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION?
“It feels great. Any time you come through the tunnel you’ve been able to win a couple of races here and I’ve enjoyed this place from the beginning. I feel like I’ve been coming here since I was born. It’s like a second home to me. I know a lot of people here and I even come back for Easter most of the time. I always enjoy coming down here and have the opportunity to have a chance to win a race. You feel better when you get to the speedway because the plan feels level.”
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU LIVED THAT LAST LAP IN YOUR MIND SINCE THEN TO NOW?
“Quite a few. It’s a good feeling coming to the checkered flag and the entire field is behind you. Anytime you can relive those moments, you try to. It’s kind of like a dream. You come to the checkered flag and all you see is people behind you and nothing in front of you.”
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT WE’VE GONE THIS LONG WITHOUT ANOTHER CHEVROLET WIN?
“Yeah, very surprised. There was a lot going into this season. A lot of people were pumped-up about the Chevy Camaro and we haven’t delivered the wins that we thought our camp would this year as far as that goes. And, we’re working, though, as a group to get closer. (Kyle) Larson had a great shot at Chicago. That’s positive. And, hopefully we can figure out how to get the speed that his Camaro has shown all year.”
WHEN TALKING ABOUT SOFTNESS IN ATTENDANCE, AN ISC EXECUTIVE SAID THAT THERE IS STILL A LITTLE BIT OF A LACK IN STAR POWER IN THE SPORT RIGHT NOW AND THAT HOPEFULLY THE STABLE OF YOUNG DRIVERS COMING ALONG WILL START TO WIN AND BUILD THEIR BRANDS. DO YOU FEEL ANY PRESSURE TO WIN FOR THE SAKE OF THE SPORT?
“Yeah, I want to be one of those people, obviously, that the fans gravitate to, for sure. I’ve got a lot of people though, not just fans, that I’m out there trying to win for each and every weekend, with the company and RCR in Welcome, NC that depend on us to run well. That’s the way they eat back at home. For sure, I want to go win and bring that personality to the sport. I feel like I have a good personality and enjoy having fun and create that, but it all comes with winning, too. You’ve got to win a lot and that’s what the fans want. But, you see races like last week; that was a solid race for our sport. I enjoyed the All-Star package and those types of things that we can try and keep doing and create those names. I truthfully think that as a whole, we have to look at how we create those super stars and you’re wanting to see. If these young guys are coming in that we want them to win, how do we put them in the best position, I guess. It is what it is and we’ll keep working hard to do that, I think.”
THE DAYTONA 500 SPEAKS FOR ITSELF, BUT HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS RACE IN JULY AND WHAT IT MEANS TO THE SPORT?
“This race is July 4ths weekend and the fireworks and the 400. It’s a relaxed version of the 500 where guys are probably more apt to do things earlier in the race to get in position to win because of the way our points are right now. The first race of the year, there’s a lot of hype going into it. This time, you feel like all right, we’re showing up to race. The first one feels like you’re showing up for everything. It all depends on the first week and how you start the season and where everything goes. But this one kind of feels more like just a regular race weekend. But you’re at one of the fastest tracks we go to all year long.”
ON LAST-LAP RACING HERE, IS THERE ANY MOVE THAT’S NOT OKAY ANYMORE? YOU WERE IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU HAD SOME BLOCKING ISSUES. BUT IS IT WIDE-OPEN, OR NOT?
“I thought Elliott Sadler answered your questions earlier pretty well when it comes to the last lap. Everybody…..I see red on the last lap. If I’m in the right position, I’m trying to finish the best I can finish for my team; like creating those opportunities for those young guys. It doesn’t matter who is in front of you. The guys that are heroes of NASCAR in the past, they did what it took to win when they were given that opportunity. People didn’t like it, but that’s also what creates rivalries, and rivalries are great. That’s what sports are built off of. You know, there’s got to be a guy that a lot of people don’t like and there’s got to be a guy that people do like, or want to see win. And that’s kind of the whole part of it. I thought it was great what we saw last week from Kyle (Larson) and (Kyle) Busch. That’s the type of fire you need from everybody.”
WE’RE AT THE SEASON’S MIDPOINT. WHAT’S THE ONE THING THAT STANDS OUT TO YOU AS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE THIS SEASON?
“Only six winners is pretty surprising. And, I feel like with only six winners, I feel like these are the best drivers in the world and we “may not be at the right package right now where we’re not getting enough winners, but that’s my opinion. I feel like there are 40 guys out there that can get it done and only six have won, there’s probably an advantage of some point in those six, in my opinion.
“Yeah, and let me rephrase what I said about an advantage. Those guys have done a good job to get an advantage. They’ve worked hard in the off-season. They’ve put the best cars they can possibly build with great drivers. So, they’re doing their job. But obviously we’ve got to do a job to get more winners. Only six is kind of tough to see that. I think it’s a record, I think, for NASCAR to only have six winners at this point in the season.”
AND IS IT KIND OF SHOCKING THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON IS WINLESS THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON. WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT TO? ARE YOU SEEING SIGNS FROM HIM? DO YOU THINK HE’LL TURN AROUND THE SECOND HALF?
“I think everybody in the Chevrolet camp is frustrated when it comes to not seeing the wins up on the board. And I know Jimmie is, too, because I walked by Chad Knaus after Sonoma and said they looked like they had a pretty good car today, and he didn’t even know I was there because he was so mad. And then he stopped and turned around and said hey man, sorry about that; he said he was frustrated and wanted to get back to Victory Lane. I don’t know if that sums it up for you.”
TOMORROW YOU ARE GETTING YOUR HANDPRINTS IN CEMENT HERE. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PERKS AND COOL THINGS YOU’VE GOTTEN TO DO BECAUSE OF YOUR DAYTONA 500 WIN HERE IN FEBRUARY?
“Oh, there’s been a lot. It’s really special. I would say some of my favorite things was an interview with a guys at the New York Stock Exchange that was a podcast, and it was probably one of the best interviews I’ve ever sat down and been able to have with someone. They just asked me great questions and brought some really interesting stories along with it. I wish I could come up with the name of the podcast right now, but it was the New York Stock Exchange. It was like their podcast and the guy was just epic to talk to. And then Shaquille O’Neal was really cool. I sat in a room that was like a really small radio room and he was piled into the corner of it. And he wrapped his had around mine twice when I shook it. He just told me some pretty cool things, so it was cool hanging out with him because I’ve always been a great fan of him. Like with Kelly and Ryan, I was nervous for that. I don’t get nervous much anymore, but that made me nervous. And then last week, the Cubs, I did the seventh inning stretch and that was really special. A lot of people have been texting me about that. And I was nervous for that one, too. Anytime you get nervous about certain things, you know it’s a big deal. It feels good to do that stuff. It was fun. There have been a lot of great things with the 500 win.”
YOU ARE A FEW WEEKS AWAY FROM YOUR ANNUAL CELEBRITY BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT. CAN YOU TELL US ANYTHING ABOUT THE GUESS LIST, AND WHO IS THE ODDS-ON FAVORITY THIS YEAR?
“I’m working hard on the guest list but the usual suspects are going to be showing up back at the tournament. DeAngelo Williams is going to emcee it again this year and he’s pretty funny because he pretty much talks people into doing really stupid stuff on the court because he calls them out and he’s just a regular jokester. Chris Rice in the Kaulig Racing team kind of stunk up the show last year, that brought in some young guns that were college basketball players. I had to tell the one kid before don’t embarrass me right here because I could just tell he was three times as athletic as I was at that point in my stage. But, it was fun. This year is going to be a great time, too. It’s the same place at Catawba College on August 1st. Any media members we’d love to have you out there. It’s a blast. Brad Miller says he’s coming for it this year. He came to the Sonoma race and he played for the bulls and he said he picked up a basketball for the first time last week to get ready for it. So, he doesn’t pick it up very often. He’s usually just hunting and fishing. But, he said he’s bringing the heat this year. I’ll give him the odds-on. If he really wanted to dominate, he probably could.”
ABOUT THE ISC EXECUTIVE MAKING THE EARLIER COMMENT, DOES THAT BOTHER YOU ABOUT THE LACK OF YOUTH PERFORMANCE SO FAR THIS SEASON?
“I don’t think it bothers me that he said that. I just want to know what we do about it, do you know what I mean? How do you move forward with that? Because the guys that are in the sport are talented enough to win. And we haven’t made many changes this year to the packages that we’re running. Each and every week you probably can guess who the top three guys are probably going to be. I bet if everybody had to bet their house on it they’d probably pick between three guys right now. Maybe four. So, I don’t know. I bet he would, too.”
YOU TALKED EARLIER ABOUT SEEING RED, ESPECIALLY AT A PLATE RACE WHERE YOU CAN MAKE OPPORTUNITIES HAPPEN. CONSIDERING YOU’RE ONE OF THE GUYS ALREADY LOCKED-IN, AND NOT THAT YOU’RE COASTING, DO YOU HAVE TO BE WEARY OF GUYS THAT ARE GOING TO BE SEEING RED TRYING TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN? DO YOU EXPECT THAT SORT OF AGGRESSION SINCE THERE ARE SO MANY GUYS WHO NEED TO WIN AND LOCK THEMSELVES IN?
“I’d say this race weekend is probably going to be one of the most aggressive you see. Everybody has an opportunity this weekend that they don’t get every other weekend and if you’re in that position then, yeah. You’re going to do crazy things to make it happen. I’ll be doing the same because I want to get bonus points because I haven’t been able to get them all year long. I’ve been trying but it’s not that easy.”
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