MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
AAA 400 DRIVE FOR AUTISM
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JUNE 2, 2017
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 AAA CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed last weekend’s victory in the Coca-Cola 600, the difficulties of getting refocused after earning his first career victory and tackling the Monster Mile, plus many other topics. Full Transcript:
HOW HAS THIS WEEK OF CELEBRATION BEEN FOR YOU AND ARE YOU STILL CELEBRATING AT THIS POINT IN TIME?
“No, I’m pretty focused on our task in front of us right now and that is the Monster Mile. We just have been working on our car in both series. It’s been a pretty busy day and it was a wonderful weekend that I will never forget, or a week.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR WEEK AND HOW COOL THIS HAS BEEN COMING OFF YOUR WIN:
“Well, it’s been an awesome week, truthfully. Got to do some things that I would have on my bucket list, but I didn’t even know they were possibly. Closing the bell (NYSE closing bell) was really special and getting to do that with my grandfather that was the first time or his only time doing that. It was cool to give him something that he had never done and that is hard to do, because my grandfather has done a whole lot. That was special and had a good time with my team and everybody at RCR and a good time that night after the race.”
WHAT WAS THE MOST SPECIAL THING? WAS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT THE CELEBRATION WEEK THAT YOU DIDN’T ANTICIPATE?
“Probably the most special thing, there were two things, the night after we closed the bell, my grandfather wanted to stay in New York and have dinner. It was the guys from SMI, myself and my fiancé and Peggy Loos (Vice President, Connections Activation) from Coke. He bought a bottle of champagne and he said ‘let’s toast to the Coca-Cola 600 champion.’ That was pretty emotional and cool to hear my grandfather do that and kind of nod his head at me, it felt good.
“Then at RCR, I got to speak in front of the whole company and that was probably the most emotional I got was just thanking those guys who have always been there for me. I told them, this is what it’s all about and all the hard work and effort they have put in and the support of myself throughout all of my racing career and just seeing some of those faces it was really cool to share that with them and have victory lane there at the shop. We kind of recreated it that was awesome.”
IS IT CHALLENGING TO GET DIALED BACK IN TO GET FOCUSED ON THE TASK AT HAND THIS WEEKEND COMPETING AT THE MONSTER MILE?
“I don’t think so. I think we’ve got a great group of guys. I actually just loved working through practice right there with Justin (Alexander, crew chief). It was nice to just kind of work on the car and to hear him talk and go through things. It was good. It was a solid practice session. I feel like we just want to win again. We’ve got a lot left to accomplish. That was the first one, we want more to come and to get ourselves solidly into the playoffs.”
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR THE WIN TO SINK IN?
“I don’t think I have slowed down enough yet to really just know that I’m a NASCAR Cup Series winner. It sunk in a couple of times like those opportunities I’ve had with my grandfather and the race team. Those are the most special times, but going through my phone and Twitter, I’m still kind of going through my phone right now and thanking people. That is cool.”
WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT ACCOMPLISHING SOMETHING (WINNING THE COCA-COLA 600) THAT A HALL OF FAMER LIKE CALE YARBOROUGH NEVER DID IN HIS CAREER WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR YOU?
“Well, I think the ultimate goal in racing is to make it to the Hall of Fame. My grandfather was able to go through that whole experience with him and how special that was. I know that was just a… it was like a relief for him when it happened because that is what you work your entire life for is an accolade like that. For him to accomplish that was so cool and hopefully one day I can do the same. We have got a long way to go. There are a lot of great people that have done so much and I’m just happy to be adding to the sports history. That was something my grandfather made clear, you are making history every day when you are out there racing and it was cool to add to the sports history.”
WAS THAT JUST A CHANCE MEETING THAT YOU RAN INTO TAKUMA SATO? WHAT DID YOU GUYS TALK ABOUT?
“Yeah, that was totally fate. We had that dinner, it wasn’t a scheduled dinner, my grandfather was just like, hey we are in New York, let’s have a dinner. We got done and we were headed to the airport, everybody was pretty tired and we walked through the airport and one of the guys said ‘hey I think that is Takuma Sato.’ He was walking actually out to the plane and we were like ‘man we’ve got to get a picture with him.’ His business manager or what turned around and seen us and he was like ‘well this is a great coincidence.’ And he pulled him back in and we got a couple of pictures, showed off our rings to each other. That was cool. He was a really nice guy and you could tell he was just jacked about the win at Indy.”
COULD YOU TELL THIS WEEK WHAT THE NO. 3 CAR WIN MEANT TO EITHER THE PEOPLE IN THE SHOP OR YOUR GRANDFATHER?
“Well, I mean I think it was huge. Ryan (Newman’s) win was unbelievable for our company and this one was just as big. Just for all those people that… you know it’s a competition within a competition. You still want to be the best within the organization and run well, but that is what drives us to be better and better. It was cool having Luke Lambert (crew chief, No. 31 Chevy) he was over at the barn the next morning like partying right there with us. It’s really a team atmosphere. It’s cool to see this kind of building as a team. A lot of the No. 31, No. 27 guys thanked me and the No. 3 guys were just happy in victory circle. It felt really good.”
HAVE YOU NOTICED THE DIFFERENCE AT THIS TRACK WITH THE RULE CHANGES?
“Yeah, I think we all are… well our team was a little surprised about the differences in the past race here to this one in the practice session. We made some pretty big swings and we felt like we got our car pretty comfortable, but I think the track is starting to rubber up a little bit as we go here. I have seen more and more guy’s kind of move to the middle lane. That was cool and maybe you will see more and more of that come race time, moving up the track.”
WHAT ARE YOU AND YOUR NEW CREW CHIEF JUSTIN ALEXANDER STILL WORKING THROUGH? WHAT ARE YOU WANTING FROM HIM AS YOU MOVE FORWARD IN THIS RELATIONSHIP AND WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO NEED TO PROVIDE TO HIM TO CONTINUE TO HAVE SUCCESS?
“I don’t know if it’s the honeymoon or what, but he is doing everything right, right now. We had a good time yesterday at the Drive for Autism golf tournament. We came back, we had dinner, it was just me and him actually having dinner together. Just talking about the race car and that was nice to just talk and discuss what we thought was going into this weekend with AAA. It’s been a great relationship so far. And then in practice today it was cool. I kind of smiled halfway through practice because I was thinking about an adjustment. I said the car was a little tight and I was thinking in my mind, I know kind of what direction I want to go here. I saw him kind of turn around to the engineers and get excited, I don’t know if get excited, but he just had a revelation and he said alright we are going to do this. And it was exactly what I was thinking. That is when… I had that once before when I was running for a championship with Danny Stockman where I could say alright I’m tight here and he could say alright well I want to adjust this and it was exactly what I was thinking. I didn’t even have to tell him what part to change. That is when you start getting to where you know each other. I know it’s early on, but that felt really good. I came in the truck and Eric (Warren, Vice President of Competition at RCR) is like what are you smiling for? I was like, well I’m happy with my guy right now he is doing really well and it’s exciting.”