NASCAR Nationwide Series: Ford EcoBoost 300
Topics: Ford EcoBoost 300
November 16, 2013
KERRY THARP: Let's now hear from our 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver's Champion, Austin Dillon. This is the second national championship for this young man as he won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. He's joined by his crew chief Danny Stockman, Jr., his first NASCAR Nationwide Series championship.
Such a close competition between you and Sam. You finished three points ahead of Sam Hornish, Jr., went down to the wire. Just talk about winning this championship, what it means to win the Nationwide Series title.
AUSTIN DILLON: Well, for me it's all about my guys in this one. Danny Stockman, he changed my career, for sure, as a crew chief. He had confidence in me. Anything I told him from the beginning, and we started together in the Truck Series the first time, I'm sure I scared him the first race out in Daytona when I hit the wall in lap one.
Ever since then, my man here has stuck by my side, always given me speed in racecars.
Tonight more than anything he gave me motivation. I thank him for that. We didn't have the fastest car. It was ugly the way we did it, but we showed we had heart. We're never going to give up. It paid off in the end.
He made great calls. Our pit crew stepped up. I just held onto the wheel. That's all I could do there at the end. It worked out for us.
Sam Hornish is a great competitor. When you win them like this, it means so much more. Tight, nerve‑wracking all the way down to the end. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous. I cover it pretty well.
Halfway through the race, it was pretty ugly. I told myself, I hit the wall once, at that point in time, you can either wreck here and give the championship away or wait till the end and give yourself a chance. That's what we did, we gave ourselves a chance, and it worked out for us.
KERRY THARP: Danny, talk about what it means to win this Nationwide Series championship.
DANNY STOCKMAN, JR.: Like Austin said, we've been together for the last four years. It's like a brotherhood. We've got a really strong team that we built four years ago. 75%, 80% of that team is the same team we started with in 2010.
Today was really probably one of the hardest days of my racing career. We unloaded the first practice, and we just didn't have any speed. Second practice we took off, we were okay. Did a qualifying run, we were just terrible. I thought we were going to be fine. Qualified absolutely terrible for us. Pretty much ran the race terrible.
The car that we had tonight, it's the first car we built when we started Nationwide racing. We've raced the car 15 times. The average finish is like three and a half. It sat on several poles. I wish I had an answer for why we ran so bad tonight and I don't. That's kind of the only thing sticking in my head right now.
This championship is really important. For us as young guys, trying to make it in this sport, it's important that we do this because we got to keep sponsors coming to RCR. We have to keep people working. To do that we've got to win, win championships, win races. That's what we do it for. At the end of the day it's all about winning.
I feel like we made it happen. Kind of ugly, but we did.
KERRY THARP: Richard, congratulations. I know you were in here yesterday. I know you've won a lot of championships during your career. This is your fourth Nationwide Series Driver Championship. You won a lot of Sprint Cup championships. What is it like to win this championship with Austin?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, it's special. I can't thank everyone enough for all the support they've given us, for these guys not giving up. I tried to stay off the radio. I didn't come on there, maybe two or three times. I wanted them to do it on their own. I didn't want to say nothing that could distract them.
This is another championship with a 3, Austin won it with a 3 in the Truck Series. I remember before that race was over, I looked up to the sky and said, Old pal, we need you. I did that again tonight. He came through.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now.
Q. Danny, as bad as the car might have been, it didn't seem like you ever got really upset. Seemed like you stayed calm the whole time. Is that typical for you?
AUSTIN DILLON: Should I answer that for him (laughter)?
DANNY STOCKMAN, JR.: For the people that do know me, I'm pretty wound up. Leading up to this, we were 50, 60 points back at one point in the season. When you start seeing yourself progress through the end of the summer, that 20‑odd‑week stretch, it feels pretty good. You get close, the stress level starts picking up, picking up, picking up.
At the beginning of the season I told my team I didn't want to come to Homestead and have to race for the championship because it ain't very fun.
AUSTIN DILLON: This one was (laughter).
DANNY STOCKMAN, JR.: You know, I won a championship with Hornaday. We won the championship in 2010 with Austin. This is by far the hardest one that I had to do. I mean, we had to dig ourselves out of a serious hole tonight.
Like I said, we brought a car that we have great success with, we've run good with it. About three‑quarters of the way through that race, to answer your question, I was out of tools to tighten the car up. I'm not going to tell him that. I'm going to keep working on it.
By the end of that race, we were out of tools. I couldn't do any more without really messing the balance of the car up too much. I just stayed calm.
I think the stress got so high that you just get used to it. You just kind of level out, deal with it. It's either crap or get off the pot, should I say. There ain't nothing else to do. Make it happen, right?
AUSTIN DILLON: Also, as far as being calm, I don't know where I got it from, I think my mom if anything, not my dad, for sure. Will talked to me before the Phoenix race. He stopped beside me and said, You have to be the leader here. When you get amped up, it does nothing but hurt our team. If I get amped up, it brings them down.
I have to stay positive the entire race and just stay in it. They're not going to give up on me. We're giving everything we've got. Jimmie Johnson has won all these championships because he communicates and stays with Chad Knaus throughout the race. They bicker every now and then. We do, too, because we hate to be slow. Sometimes it's just not your day. It's how you overcome those days.
Hearing that from Will, it don't matter when you're in that stressful situation, you try to stay calm. You can't do anything in that moment. Like I said earlier, I was close to wrecking that car trying to get more speed out of it. I said to myself, If I hit the wall the next lap, take ourselves out of this championship, I'm giving it to him. Got to make it to the end. Made it to the end and it worked out.
Q. Austin, those last couple restarts, you saw Sam right in front of you. What was going through your mind?
AUSTIN DILLON: Do everything I could to put stress on him. Make sure that he knew I was there. The last one, I knew with five to go our car was good enough. If I could somehow get him off his rocker, get him frustrated somehow, it would work.
I pulled out on him down the frontstretch. But his car was a little better. He got sideways off of four and kind of got him up against the wall. I could see him from then on. Then it was just trying to finish it out. Our car was tight there near the end sliding against the wall. As long as I could see him, I was comfortable.
Q. It seems like your whole career is going to plan. How do you feel about actually following that plan so well? What do you think allowed you to accomplish it so well?
AUSTIN DILLON: It's obvious. My family, support from sponsors, guys like Danny Stockman, our crew at RCR. From the age I was really young, I was always really competitive. Hated to lose. I still do today. Grew up after the first few years, Shane and Dale McDowell from our dirt shop even, they taught me how to race. I keep going back to then. Staying consistent.
Sometimes you can't win the race, but you can win it in other ways. Being smart is a big part of it, thinking, staying focused throughout the race.
Q. Austin, this is about the perfect jumping‑off way to go into next year. What can you do next year? What is reasonable? How long does it take you to win the third national series title?
AUSTIN DILLON: That level is a little bit bigger of a jump for sure. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I think definitely Rookie of the Year is definitely what we want to get next year. That's our main focus, and to gain as much experience as I can. Each lap I hit in a Cup car, a Cup motor is going to be crucial next year. Finishing laps will be huge.
Hopefully I'll be able to have some fun in Nationwide and Truck. I had a blast last night in the Truck race. No matter what, it was stress‑free. That was fun. I had fun in the Truck race at Eldora. Doing those things will help next year.
Next year is going to be tough. I know we're up to the challenge. We got a good plan. I'm looking forward to battling it out next year.
Q. Did anybody tell you all night, Okay, your lead is safe, you're five behind, three ahead? Did you have any idea until the last 10 laps where you stood points‑wise?
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, Andy did a pretty good job of not bringing it up until 50 to go. Then how can you not bring it up? It's just obvious, you got to start talking about it.
It helped to know. But I was doing everything I could at that point. We had the same strategy as Sam. I think staying on that pit strategy helped. Going forward, my spotter did a good job of letting me know where we needed to be.
Q. A lot of commentary at the end about the extended caution. Do you feel it would have worked out the same if they had red flagged the race?
AUSTIN DILLON: God is great. It would have worked out great either way.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I second that.
Q. Austin, some champions say the second championship is harder. Could you compare your first championship to this one.
AUSTIN DILLON: I know the first one, I was way more nervous I think leading up to the Truck championship because I knew I had a buffer. It was mine to lose. This one was tight. I mean, you have to go out there and put your best on and see if you can accomplish what you want to accomplish.
It would come down to the last little bit, I knew it was going to. We definitely wanted to be in front of Sam all day. Math would have been a lot easier.
But I wasn't very nervous up until‑‑ I got emotional with our guys before. It means so much to them, to go out this way. It worked out. It was very special.
Q. Not the last restart, but the next to last, right before that Andy told you you needed to pick up about five spots at that point.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah.
Q. You had five spots picked up before the wreck off of turn four. How hard and how much on the edge were you to do that?
AUSTIN DILLON: He kept preaching to me momentum, Danny did. Last night I could make stuff work on the bottom and slide. Tonight it didn't allow me to do that. So I had to use what I could up against the wall.
Actually that restart before that, I slid under Sam going into three, he pinched me a little bit off there, that was our best restart. So it was like I wanted to restart fourth again, but I actually was a little bit more comfortable having Sam right in front of me. I knew if I could stick with him on that start, we'd be fine.
Q. This might be premature at this point, but you and Greg Biffle are the only two that could pull off the Triple Crown. You have a lot more blue sky ahead of you. Whenever it is that you get to Cup, what do you think your potential is and what do you think it would mean to the sport to see the three back in a championship mode?
AUSTIN DILLON: The Cup Series is going to be fun to run. I feel like going out there, the guys that we've got a plan for, everything, we've got a plan, I feel like RCR has been very successful. Kevin Harvick has been runner‑up to Jimmie Johnson for a long time. My dad was telling me a stat, the last six or seven years he's been number two for the amount of finishes compared to Jimmie. I'm really excited that RCR's equipment, everybody is leading in the right direction.
Danny has a knack for finding speed. He's learned a bunch. I've learned a bunch. I still got a lot to learn.
Like you said, we got some blue sky ahead of us. We just got to take care of ourselves. Obviously it's tough. Greg has been in the Cup Series for a long time. It's a different mindset from Cup to Truck to Nationwide. I hope we're able to make the transition.
I've been able to make the transition from Truck to Nationwide. Let's see if we can do it in Cup.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations to Austin Dillon, crew chief Danny Stockman, team owner Richard Childress, the 2013 Nationwide Series champion. Much deserved.
AUSTIN DILLON: Thank you. Media, you don't get the recognition for our sport. Our fans are the best fans in the world. I'm glad you guys keep them pumped up and excited about it. It was pretty cool last night to see everything that went on after what McNabb and everybody said, how our fans stepped up to the plate. I thank you guys for that and all the media. Thank you for a great season.
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