Our series of NASCAR driver interviews continues this week with Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon, the Nationwide Series rookie who is second in the point standings. Dillon, last year's Truck Series champion, is a grandson of Richard Childress.
SBN: What percent of the races in your life can you remember?
AD: Like every race I've ever been in? I'd probably say 75 percent.
SBN: What happens to the rest of them?
AD: If somebody brought the race up, I'd be able to remember it...I think. You forget the ones that are pretty bad. I remember the big wrecks, the wins and the ones that kind of mean something – like if you finish top three in a big race and it made you feel like you could go out and win races.
SBN: What was the first win you ever got in any form of racing?
AD: I got it in a Bandolero at Concord Motorsports Park; I was 15. I remember we went and tested three days before the race, and going into the race, it felt like I had a really good car. The week before, I was leading and spun out while leading – and I remembered how stupid I felt.
So the next week, we came back and won. It was kind of one of those deals where you're on the edge trying to figure out where the line is, and then the next week I was able to race on the edge and win the race.
SBN: Who is a clean driver you enjoy racing with in the Nationwide Series?
AD: Not Mike Wallace. (Laughs) But the thing about Mike is he races everybody the same. Hmm...I'm just trying to think of a guy I have respect for. Probably Kevin Harvick – he's pretty respectful about that. Like if you're faster and you get to him, he'll let you go, you know what I mean? But he's still going to race you for that position hard at the end of the race.
SBN: It sounds like Mike Wallace might be the answer to this next question, but who is a driver you don't enjoy racing because he always seems to make it hard on you?
AD: I think Mike Wallace is probably the hardest person to pass in the Nationwide Series. I think everybody has the same opinion; he's just a hard person to pass. And some of the guys who are a lap down seem to race you really hard. I'm just trying to think of somebody else, too. (Pauses for a moment) Oh, Justin Allgaier. He's really hard to pass. He's probably the hardest, actually.
SBN: So what's your personal code of conduct on the track? How do you decide when it's go-time?
AD: I try to race hard the whole race. When you have a car capable of going to the front, you go as hard as you can – especially when the lap times are there and you feel like the car is good, you charge as hard as you can. If you're on the edge of being out of control, I try to maintain my position. If there's a guy faster than me and he's all over me then, I'd let him go.
At the end of the race, I think the last caution or two from the end, you get everything you can. I like waiting until the end to really put on a show or making sure I can at least salvage a good finish from the position when you go. Like if you're there at the end of the race with 20 to go, a lot of the wrecks are done by then. So if you put yourself in good position at that point, you can really gain points and it means something when you make passes and go for the front.
I think when you race hard for 11th or 12th in the middle of the race, that's when you lose respect from guys. The only time people really remember where you finished is when you're up toward the front. And people remember you for finishing races, too. If you wreck going for 12th, that's pretty bad.
SBN: Do you keep a mental list of people you owe for on-track payback?
AD: I think you remember things. I always remember the people that race me hard. If somebody takes me out, I'd definitely have them on a mental list and know that I'm going to get them back. But for people that race you hard and stuff, I think you just lose respect for them and start racing them like they race you. I've always been taught: Race someone like they race you – at least that's my opinion.
SBN: If you could turn back time, who is a driver from the past you'd like to team with?
AD: I think David Pearson would be a really cool person to hear from. He's kind of a quiet person, I think, and I'd really like to get to know him and learn from him. He kicked butt forever, but he was quiet about it. So I'd like to get inside his head.
SBN: When is the last time you got nervous about anything?
AD: The championship at the end of the year at Homestead, I got really nervous going into it. But I knew we had a really good car, so it wasn't too bad.
Other than that, I'd have to say making a speech. Those are pretty nerve-wracking times, making a speech in front of a lot of people. It's tough, but I like it.
SBN: You guys meet a lot of fans through appearances and autograph sessions, and sometimes they ask awkward or uncomfortable questions. Do you have any recent stories along those lines?
AD: Lately, I haven't had anything really off the wall. I've signed multiple body parts. I have signed shoes before. People will take their shoe off, hand it to you and ask you to sign their shoe.
Somebody tried to take my cowboy hat off my head once.
SBN: Wow. How'd you react to that?
AD: My girlfriend took it back. They got it close to off my head, and she ripped it back.
SBN: That sounds kind of hardcore, actually.
AD: Well, it was kind of funny. It was a girl...
SBN: Oh, I was picturing some big dude trying to get away with your hat.
AD: Yeah, no. But here's something else kind of funny: I was riding around the track with Danica (in the back of a pickup truck) before the race, and you see people in the infield doing some pretty crazy stuff to Danica.
I'd hate to be in her position, because guys are on the backstretch on their motorhomes doing some pretty funny things toward her as you ride around. It was pretty interesting how she has to react to that. I guess you see a little bit of...uh...everything. It's a lot of public nudity from people you really don't want to see doing that.
SBN: Many years from now when you retire, would you rather be a NASCAR broadcaster or a high-ranking NASCAR official?
AD: I like being in front of the TV. I think that would be fun. Being an official would kind of be like going to the dark side, I guess. (Laughs)
I'd like to manage a team, similar to what my dad does (Mike Dillon is RCR's vice president of competition). I love his job. He gets to work with people a lot, and I'm kind of a people person. I like hanging out with guys who know what's going on inside of our sport, and I think he's got a good insight into a lot of information that gets out. He's working with guys that are in it each and every weekend, and it creates a bond with them.
SBN: What's a question you get asked a lot you're tired of answering?
AD: "Will you drive the No. 3 in the Cup Series?" and "How much pressure does driving the 3 put on you?" Pretty much the '3' questions.
SBN: I've been asking each interview subject to give me a question for the next guy. Last week, it was Brian France, and he wanted to know: Why do you wear that cowboy hat?
AD: I guess because I don't work for NASCAR. (Laughs) If I worked for NASCAR, I wouldn't be able to wear one.
SBN: And can you help me with a question for the next guy? I don't know who it will be yet.
AD: Ask them, "What would you do if Danica wrecked you after a race?"
SBN: Oh boy. That should be good, thanks.
ARCHIVE: See the previous 12 Questions interviews from this season.