MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
PLAYOFF MEDIA DAY
NASCAR HALL OF FAME
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 13, 2017
AUSTIN DILLON, #3 DOW CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Playoff Media Day. Full Transcript:
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHANCES IN THE PLAYOFFS:
"I think our chances are solid. We have nothing to lose in my mindset in where we are at as far as the points go. Last year we made some noise and made it to the second round, and missed the third round by one point. I kicked myself over that point but I learned from it experience-wise. I know how aggressive I need to be in those first couple of races to put ourselves in a little better position for the third race. They are three-race seasons and you have to take them as that and get as much as you can out of them."
IN THE FIRST ROUND, IS THERE ONE TRACK YOU ENJOY MORE THAN THE OTHER ONES?
"I actually enjoy all three tracks. Chicago is probably my favorite to go to out of all three of them. I love Chicago, it's a good place. Dover is another solid one that I have been able to run well in the past at."
WHAT WERE YOUR OVERALL EXPERIENCES FROM YOUR FIRST PLAYOFF LAST YEAR?
"Yeah, we were able to knock some guys out. So, getting to the second round I definitely felt like I got some Playoff experience. Then going to Talladega where the race was really tight going down to the last 100 yards to the start/finish line with Denny (Hamlin), and missed making that third round by a bumper over the 43 car. So, if that happens (making it) then we go to the next three races with another shot and we are running third at Texas where I got wrecked by Harvick. I kick myself for that one point for sure because we could have been one of those guys at Homestead. And then everything changes again because you have a different outlook, a different mindset, when you get to those places. I feel like last year we gained a lot of experience and I want to go further this year than I did last year."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THERE IS AN UNDERDOG ROLE WITH YOU GUYS AND DO YOU LIKE THAT ROLE IF SO?
"I love the underdog role. The pressure is on the guys that gained all the points to lose them and crumble. A lot of people have already put them in position to get to Homestead because of bonus points, but it can happen real quick where you have anything that can go wrong. Wreck early, engine, anything. So, you have to have a solid piece, and you have to have things go your way, but we can definitely make most of our luck and put ourselves in the best position. Points racing for me is fun because I have done it winning the Truck and Xfinity championship and I know what it is like to go to Homestead and having to run good. I have been in those situations before. I feel like it's what you live for in NASCAR. Those races where your back is against the wall and you see if you can make it happen when it counts. So, clutch situations have been good for me and my teams in the past."
AFTER YOU GUYS WON THE COKE 600, WHEN DID YOU REALLY START PLANNING FOR WHAT YOU WERE GOING TO DO IN THIS FIRST ROUND OR EVEN THE SECOND ROUND?
"Truthfully, we have been just working hard and focused on getting our cars faster unloading and I feel like we have gotten a lot of the key ingredients to having a good team. Our pit crew has been fast all year and our strategy has been aggressive more than most. That is a part that I am really happy about because we took a lot of chances in the regular season races that most people didn't. So, we do have a playbook or a wide variety of stuff we can do in the Playoffs to make track position gains if they fall our way."
HOW IS IT HAVING A TEAMMATE OUT THERE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS WITH YOU?
"I think Ryan (Newman) and my relationship has not only grown a lot just over this year, but the last couple of weeks even. We are working hard together because we know what it means to kind of help each other and have each other's back. Ryan has done this a long time and he is really smart with the race cars. I bring a little bit of a different driving style that he can look at, as far as the data goes. We have a good mix there of old and new styles coming together. I think that plays to our advantage a little bit."
DO YOU FEEL MUCH MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE GOING IN THE SECOND TIME?
"There are a lot of guys who have no Playoff experience in this first 16, so I feel comfortable about the first round as far as the guys we have to beat. So, I don't think it's a bad thing to have that Playoff experience from last year at all. There are a lot of guys that don't have any. Or not a lot of guys, a couple of guys."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE VETERANS HAVE A LEG UP ON THE YOUNGER DRIVERS OR NOT?
"I don't know. I feel like there are younger guys that drive like older guys too. Then there are older guys that drive like younger guys. Hard for me to say if the experience of the older guys plays to their advantage. I think this who is the smartest, and then there are guys that drive a little more aggressively that put themselves in good position. It's a chess match and whoever plays that match the best is going to make it through all these rounds and to Homestead."
I TALKED TO DANICA (PATRICK) TODAY AND I ASKED HER IF YOU WERE ON HER LIST FOR THE NEXT 10 RACES AND SHE SAID YOU HAD TWO OPTIONS. ONE IS TO MOVE OVER SO I CAN'T HIT HIM AND THE OTHER IS TO STAY IN FRONT OF ME SO I CAN:
"Well, that is good to know. I am glad she is worried about me, but I will talk to her at some point and I am sure we will be okay. She could have retaliated at Richmond. I pulled right in front of her to allow her to do it, but nothing happened. I was ready to get out of the Richmond race because we sucked so bad. I was like, 'man, just take me out if you want', but she didn't do it. I didn't think she was that mad."
THAT WASN'T A RETALIATORY SPIN BY YOU OF HER DURING THE RACE?
"Oh yeah. She punted me and I punted her back, but she spun out. I saved mine when she punted me."
IF THERE IS A FUEL MILEAGE OPPORTUNITY DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE IT?
"Yeah, but the good thing about it is that it's just three races and people make mistakes. I feel like you can have three solid finishes and make it through this first round. In the second round, we are looking more for wins and you have to score points and stages. I think stages are going to be really important also in the first round. It will probably come down to who scored stage points in getting in or knocked out when it comes down to it in the first round. But if there are fuel mileage chances, we will be aggressive on it. We have been aggressive on it all year. I was just saying that was one part that I really like about our team is that we have been aggressive on strategy. Probably more aggressive than most teams. So, I think there is a little advantage in that in knowing you have nothing to lose and take a big risk and still finish kind of where you were going to finish if it does go wrong. We will be on the aggressive side of the strategy always."
YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE THE ONLY GUY TO HAVE A CHAMPIONSHIP AT EVERY LEVEL. AND BEING A GUY THAT GREW UP IN A CHAMPIONSHIP FAMILY, ETC, ETC....AND WILL YOU WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP MAKE THE FIGHT BACK TO CHAMPIONSHIP LEVEL FOR RCR EVEN SWEETER?
"It would be huge. With RCR and the history that it has in winning championships in that #3 car, its everything that you want. You come to this sport and you put in the effort and the time and it's a championship. To become the guy that wins all three first would be awesome and something to definitely hold my hat on for the rest of my career."
WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO BE THAT TEAM AGAIN THAT CONTENDS EVERY WEEK THAT YOU UNLOAD AT THE RACETRACK?
"I think we just have to keep heading down that road of speed and downforce and whatever it is to get the advantage we need to be the fastest every week. I think next year with what Chevrolet is doing with that Camaro is good for us and is a clean slate. It's a good time for RCR to go to work in the offseason to bring more speed. But for right now we have the Chevrolet SS and we need to do what we can with this opportunity. Because you never know what the next time is that you are going to have a playoff opportunity is."
WITH DALE JUNIOR RETIRING, WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU REMEMBER MEETING HIM?
"Man, good question, I am not sure I remember that."
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE MEMORY OF RACING HIM?
"We raced pretty hard against each other at New Hampshire one time. Beating and banging a little bit. That is probably my favorite memory."
--- Team Chevy ---