Some NASCAR fans may not know the name, but all of them know the number. Austin Dillon, the grandson of Richard Childress, has driven the No. 3 for most his life, but now that he’s made the step up to NASCAR’s Truck Series it comes with questions.
Dillon took time out at NASCAR Media Day in Daytona Beach, Fla. to talk to Frontstretch writer Mike Lovecchio about the pressure that comes with driving for such a historic number, and what his future plans on for it
Q: Mike Lovecchio, Frontstretch: What kind of thoughts are going through your head as you are preparing for your first Daytona start?
Austin Dillon: You can’t say there’s no nerves because there is. You can’t look at it as pressure though. I’m just gonna go out there, have fun and try to get to the front somehow. If we run all the laps and try to make it to the end, I feel we’ll have a good shot.
Lovecchio: How excited are you to be running the full Truck schedule in 2010?
Dillon: I’m very excited. Last year we jumped around from different series and this year having a set schedule, it’s going to make things easier. Being in the truck every week and having a great sponsor in Bass Pro Shops is a good thing as tough as the economy is right now having a company behind you like them really makes things easier.
Lovecchio: Speaking of the economy, what are your thoughts on what seems to be a healthier Truck Series this season?
Dillon: I feel like the Truck Series has actually done well. I think I heard that their attendance was up last year compared to past years and everyone loves the racing. It’s tough racing, there’s a lot of beating and banging and drivers really have to go hard because of the short amount of laps. Everybody’s on the move every lap. It’s a lot of fun, I know that and I’m very excited to be in the series.
Lovecchio: How fortunate do you feel as a young driver to have a sponsor like Bass Pro Shops and be able to run the full schedule when there are so many drivers out there looking for rides?
Dillon: It’s awesome, and for me it doesn’t fit any better. I love hunting and fishing, and I go in the outdoors a lot with my grandfather (Richard Childress). I can’t wait to get out there and showcase the truck. It looks awesome and the guys have cool suits. I just can’t wait.
Lovecchio: What do you see as the reason why there is an anticipated increase in the number of start-and-park teams in the Nationwide Series, but fewer in the Truck Series?
Dillon: I think it’s just going to be better competition in the Truck Series. We’ve got Kyle Busch bringing in a team now and we’re bringing our new team. It’s just a bunch of new teams going out there and trying to prove themselves. I feel the Truck Series is almost going to be the developmental series now. They’ve raised the bar now for the Nationwide Series just because of the prices and the things that you have to do to get in the Nationwide Series these days. The Truck Series is just the perfect place for guys like me that are trying to prove themselves and run well.
Lovecchio: So what are your goals for your rookie season?
Dillon: Definitely to win Rookie of the Year, run in the top 10 and hopefully get a win by the end of the season. That would be a great year. If we could have that and run all the races and laps, that’s the biggest thing… no DNFs.
Lovecchio: Is there any conflict of interest working for your grandfather?
Dillon: No. Ever since I’ve been in a racecar I’ve driven for him and that’s who I want to be with. He’s a great grandfather and owner, but you kind of just have to change yourself when you’re out there. When something goes wrong you’ve got to be the driver and not the grandson. It’s hard to juggle, but we do a good job of it.
Lovecchio: Is there any added pressure driving the No. 3 truck with the history behind it?*
Dillon: I think there’s pressure when you’re out on the track with any number. I put the pressure on myself to go out there and perform, but you can’t really look at it as pressure you’ve got to have fun while you’re doing it.
Lovecchio: Do you have any Nationwide plans for this season?
Dillon: Hopefully we can run the new car at the three or four races they have. We’ve got to try and get ready for next year if we feel we’re good enough to move up.
Lovecchio: Do you plan on moving up with the No. 3?
Dillon: We’ll just have to see. My grandfather is the main factor in that. I love running it, I’ve run it in every series since I start racing. I’m comfortable with the number and I’m excited to run it in the Truck Series. It’s fun to run. It comes with a lot of different things: the media, the fans… people love it. It’s something that’s close to a lot of people’s hearts and it’s close to my family’s. I feel like I’m fortunate to run it.
Lovecchio: Do you think it should be retired in the Cup Series?
Dillon: I guess that’s a question that other people have to answer. I don’t know. I like running it right now and I’m comfortable with it. I just have to see how it goes from now on.
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