Richard Childress Racing
February 3, 2012
Dillon Set for Next Challenge
"You want another championship because you know what it feels like standing up there at the table and everything. But I think where we’re at, being a rookie, top five in points and winning a few races would be great. Winning rookie of the year would be great. It’s going to be fun and exciting."
Austin Dillon may come from a racing family, but he’s smart enough to know that in NASCAR nothing is handed to you, nothing is automatic. Whatever success you achieve is earned through hard work and through teamwork.
Dillon is the reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, having scored a narrow, 6-point victory over Johnny Sauter last season.
This year, the stakes get raised.
For 2012, Dillon will pilot another Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet for his grandfather, team owner Richard Childress. Last year it was a Chevy Silverado in the Truck Series; this year it will be a Chevy Impala in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Yes, the Impala will be black and yes, it will carry the No. 3, just as the truck did last year.
While fans and pundits can debate the social significance — or lack thereof — of seeing the black No. 3 RCR Chevy race once again, Dillon has more pressing matters at hand. If he wants to enjoy the level of success he had in the Truck Series, Dillon needs to learn a whole new series of tracks and learn them quickly, as well as adjust to a longer schedule, 33 races vs. 25 last year. Three of those 33 races this year will be on road courses, which the trucks haven’t raced on much in recent years.
Given that Dillon is just 21 years old, it’s a lot of new variables.
“I don’t have much experience at all on road courses,” said Dillon. “That’s where I’m going to kind of take … what you can each race and learn. Hopefully by the end of it we can have good road course finishes.”
To that end, RCR has hired popular road-course specialist Max Papis to tutor Dillon on the intricacies of turning right and braking. “I’ll definitely be looking to him for road course experience” Dillon said of Papis. He helped (Joey) Logano a lot last year.”
Auto Club Speedway, a fast 2-mile track is another place where the Nationwide Series races that the trucks didn’t. Dillon will be doing a lot of homework this year to catch up on the various tracks.
“In 2010, I was able to learn all the Truck Series tracks and that’s what helped me in 2011,” said Dillon. “Kind of knowing what to expect the next year and how to pick up my game, I guess.”
Dillon has set his goals high for this year.
“It was a good year last year winning a championship,” Dillon said. “You want another championship because you know what it feels like standing up there at the table and everything. But I think where we’re at, being a rookie, top five in points and winning a few races would be great. Winning rookie of the year would be great. … It’s going to be fun and exciting.”
And will Dillon be ready to move up the Sprint Cup level full time in 2013, which is the current plan?
“I’ll be able to tell you by the end of the year if I think I’m ready,” Dillon said. “The fortunate thing is I have some time. If we find a good sponsor and feel like we’re ready, my grandfather feels like we’re in the right position, my dad. And if the people who helped me get where I am feel like I can do it, we’ll definitely go after it.”
Dillon knows he needs to keep pushing. After all, little brother Ty is right behind him coming up through the NASCAR ranks.
Asked who’s better, Austin smiled.
“I’m going to say me,” he said. “But that’s just ‘cause I’m the brother. He’s going to say himself, too. But I think we both have respect for each other. If you really dug deep enough, we’d probably say each other.”
This article was written by Tom Jensen at SPEED. Read it here: http://nascar.speedtv.com/article/nns-austion-dillon-set-for-next-challenge-nascar/