Continued from part 2 Q: Can you put into words how much more exciting or important this victory was than your late-model victories? AUSTIN DILLON: It was really exciting. You know, I got that first Camping World East win back in 2008. It...
Continued from part 2
Q: Can you put into words how much more exciting or important this victory was than your late-model victories?
AUSTIN DILLON: It was really exciting. You know, I got that first Camping World East win back in 2008. It was a win. Went down in the books as a win, but it wasn't truly a win because we didn't cross the checkered flag first.
This time it proved to everybody that I could actually win and win under a pressure situation with the green-white-checkered. It was a heck of a celebration. I'm glad we got the first one behind us. I know we can do it now.
Q: You've run well in the past at Iowa, right?
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, we've had some success there in the ARCA race and the Truck race last year. We were waiting for that one race, that one truck to put everything together, run like we did today.
Q: As well as you ran yesterday, does that give you a better idea of saying, when you go to a track that you haven't run at before, what the truck will need?
AUSTIN DILLON: I think so. The biggest thing is confidence and mentally that you can go out and win races now. You've proven it. It's time to go do it. I think getting that first one behind you is really big.
Q: Where are you running late models tomorrow night?
AUSTIN DILLON: Gastonia, North Carolina. The Ray Cook Southern National Series.
Q: This has nothing to do with racing.
AUSTIN DILLON: That's fine.
Q: The Cup Series has lost our teenage heartthrob in Kasey Kahne. He's pushing 30. Joey Logano could potentially be that next kind of hottie to follow in the series but has a girlfriend. Would it be a good fit for you? Do you have a lot of female fans? Could you be in a commercial where girls are chasing you?
AUSTIN DILLON: I have no problems with girls chasing me. That would be pretty cool. I don't know how to respond to that.
Q: The more important thing is something for the younger fans to enjoy in the sport. That was something that Kasey brought. He attracted the younger fan base. Maybe since you're a college student, that's another way you can help bring younger fans to the sport. Do you think about that?
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I remember when Kasey first started, I was even a fan of him. After meeting him and how cool of a person he is, he does appeal to the younger audience. That would be awesome to bring younger fans into the sport. Like you said, the college atmosphere. If it may be girls, whoever it may be, the younger world, I would love to have as many fans as I can get. Whatever it takes to get 'em, we'll hopefully keep winning and see how it goes.
Q: Austin, let's go back to the Legends Nationals three years ago at Orlando. How big an advantage do you think running the Legends cars gave you over everybody else who has never run a car that's that hard to drive?
AUSTIN DILLON: Running the Legends car, I think the biggest thing about that is the horsepower, the tire ratio. You have a lot of horsepower, you have a small radial tire that doesn't have much grip, you have to figure out how to hook it up.
I think running those cars helps me move along even further into dirt. You drive them similar to a dirt car. You kind of carry that mentality over.
Q: I want to say in five of your first seven races this year you didn't finish on the lead lap. Did you lose any confidence during that time? Did you have any time wondering whether you were doing the right thing?
AUSTIN DILLON: I think the confidence level was always there, especially with the way the trucks were running. We were in practice and running well in all those races. We had a freak accident at Charlotte with the lug nuts. I'll take the blame for Daytona on that first-lap deal. Just put in a bad situation there on that.
Other than that, though, we've had fast trucks each and every race. Just haven't got the finishes due to mistakes, whether it be on pit road, on the track.
I think the confidence was always there, like I was saying, especially after getting those poles, running up top five. We were running good in other races, but didn't get the finishes we deserved.
Q: Did you talk to anybody specifically after that Daytona dea Anybodyl? say anything that was particularly helpfu l?
AUSTIN DILLON: Actually, Carl Edwards met me at the car right after that happened. He told me, Man, don't feel bad. I was leading here and spun out in my first truck race. I don't know if it was his first, whatever it was.
That's cool when a guy like that can come to me and knowing I had a really fast truck, just saying it's okay, everything is going to be all right. That's cool of him. Carl is a great guy for that kind of stuff.
Q: When you look back to yesterday's race, what do you feel you were able to do to win that in the sense of what did you learn from yesterday? Were there experiences from earlier this season that helped you at situations late in the race where you could get that win as opposed to being a driver that is close and is not able to finish it off?
AUSTIN DILLON: I think the whole season really helped us. We've had little mistakes at certain races that have hurt us when we've had fast trucks. Every little mistake you go over before you start to race and make sure nothing can go wrong, we talked about it in our team meeting before. We need to minimize mistakes and give 110% if we're going to have a shot at it.
Pretty much all the experience from all year has come into play. My restarts weren't as good as we should have been in previous races. Yesterday that was one of my strongest points, were restarts. As soon as we took the green flag, I could restart and get a lead, and that was big.
Q: How did you get better at that? Obviously you can't practice that during practice or over at the shop. How did you improve on that aspect?
AUSTIN DILLON: Just really focused on everything you have to do with hitting the shift, shifting at the right point, not spinning the tires, make sure you're focused on what you have to do. When you do it more than once, it's shame on you.
Yesterday I was able to just hit my marks on my shifts and get to the gears at the right point and take off what everybody else wasn't taking off.
Q: I'm sure your phone and messages blew up afterwards. How many people did you hear from? Were there people from the Cup and Nationwide level that left messages for you yesterday?
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, there was a bunch of RCR teammates, Burton, Clint Bowyer. They all sent me messages of congratulations. It was just really seeing people that had helped me along the way, whether it be people that helped me with my dirt sponsorship, different stuff. It was really cool for all the people that have gotten me to where I am now.
Ricky Carmichael sent me a text a few minutes ago congratulating me again. We're really close friends. That's cool.
Q: Did you get to hear or read any of the stuff that Dale Jr. said after winning in the 3 car at Daytona about never driving it again and so forth?
AUSTIN DILLON: I got to hear a little bit. Not much, though. I was actually running a dirt car when he won.
Q: He basically said it's a lot of pressure. Of course, his situation is different because it was his dad. You seem to have no problem embracing driving the car, even with all the pressure that comes with it. Would you say that's a fair statement? If it were up to you, would you mind driving this car the rest of your NASCAR career?
AUSTIN DILLON: You know, I love running it. It's a lot of fun. Like you said, there is pressure behind it. The fans want it to run well when it's out on the track. It's something you have to take on and take on as a challenge is the way I look at it.
It's fun to me running that number. The fans stand in the grandstands when you run well with it. It's different, like you said, from Dale to me, from family background.
I do enjoy running it. But it's grandfather's decision when we run it and how long we run it.
Q: You've won pole three straight times, never raced at Gateway. Can you continue that kind of run or run up front? This is a track where you have to run pretty much up front if you're going to win.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I've been getting a few notes from dad and some other people have been telling me about the track. The way our equipment and trucks have been handling, I feel like there's no reason we shouldn't be able to go out there and run well. We might not be able to pick up as fast as we usually do in practice and make the adjustments we're able to make when we were fast right off the truck.
There's a good shot at it. Four in a row would be awesome. I don't know what the record is for the Truck Series for how many poles in a row, but I'd love to go for it.
Q: Having never raced here, have you been talking to people who have in the past?
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I mean, just trying to get as much information as you can gather. But the main thing is when you get there, you have to learn it yourself. That's what I figured from going to these places for the first time. You have to go out there with the mindset that you're going to pick it up quick, you're going to learn the line, do what it takes to get fast, whatever it takes, and do it fast. You only have an hour and a half each practice.
DENISE MALOOF: Austin, thank you very much for your time . Congratulations again. Good luck this weekend at Gateway .
AUSTIN DILLON: Thank you.