MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
AUTO CLUB 400
TEAM CHEVY QUALIFYING PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 15, 2019
AUSTIN DILLON PUTS CAMARO ZL1 ON THE POLE AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
Three Team Chevy Drivers Qualify in the top 12
FONTANA, Calif. (March 15, 2019) – Austin Dillon powered his No. 3 DOW Coatings Camaro ZL1 to the pole position for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Auto Club Speedway. Dillon recorded the fastest lap in the knockout qualifying session in what became a sprint to the end in each of the three rounds in the format. Drivers waited to take to the track in drafting groups — and resulted in no driver reaching the start-finish line in time for a third-round qualifying lap. The top positions were then set by second-round speeds.
It was Dillon’s second pole at the 2-mile California track and his fourth career pole. The feat was also the 15th pole for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway, and 701st pole in NASCAR’s premier division.
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1 was second quick and Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1 was 11th to give Chevrolet three qualifiers in the Top 12.
Kevin Harvick (Ford) was second, Aric Almirola (Ford) was third, Kyle Busch (Toyota) was fourth, and Joey Logano (Ford) qualified 5th to round out the Top 5.
The Auto Club 400 is scheduled to begin on Sunday March 17th at 3:30 pm, ET. Live coverage can be found on FOX, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 CAMARO ZL1, POLE WINNER:
WHY DO YOU THINK EVERYONE WAITED BEYOND THE TIME THEY COULD MAKE IT BACK TO THE STRIPE?
“Well, a lot of the cars wanted to follow us, they knew we had the car to beat. So trying to get us to go was probably a part of that. And then, when the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) made a little bit of a move there, I was going to follow him to have one car to beat. I didn’t have to make it back around. Then the No. 12 (Ryan Blaney) came through the grass, I thought he demolished his car. It looked like he left the ground over there, I don’t know what he hit, but it was pretty wild. At that point, my spotter said you can bring it around here, I knew we had gotten the pole. God never ceases to amaze me, Man. It is awesome to see the blessings that have been bestowed on me. It is special.”
DID YOU HAVE TO SET YOUR CAR UP IN A SPECIAL WAY FOR QUALIFYING BECAUSE OF THE WIND?
“It was really pushing the car in the middle of three and four. In the middle of the corner I had a tight balance for most of my day. I couldn’t run wide open. I was just talking (Danny) Stockman through it. Just trying to tell him where it was. I thought the wind changed going into practice. It felt like it was coming from turn two to turn four. But when I got out of the car after practice, it was really shooting right through the middle of three and four. So I went and talked to him and told him that the reason its tight has to be the wind. We freed up around that, and I changed a little bit of my driving style to kind of accommodate the car because I felt like it had enough speed. I didn’t need to be over aggressive and make the wind use that as a disadvantage for us. I just tried to change my driving style, and he did a good job making some adjustments so we ended up on top.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK NASCAR DOES NOW? DO THEY MAKE A CHANGE IN QUALIFYING? SO WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN?
“I don’t know. I’m not them. But, I’m happy for my team to get the pole that no one ever ran a lap in qualifying, that is pretty cool. That will go down in the record book some way as the only one. Or it might be the last time you ever see that qualifying again. So we won the last one of those, so that feels good. I’m glad I’m the guy on the winning side of it, and not the guy that has to make the decision moving forward, but you will probably do something different I would assume.”
WHY DOESN’T THE DRIVER WHO WAS 12TH IN THE SECOND ROUND GO OUT SO EVERYBODY CAN GO AROUND. IF NOBODY TAKES A LAP, THEY ARE STUCK IN 12TH ANYWAY?
“Because we are all competitors. Hence why we yell on the radio during the weekend. Hence why we are aggressive. This is what we do. What we love to do. When we are 12th, we still think we can get the pole. When we are 40th, we still think we can get the pole. That 12th guy isn’t going to be a sacrificial lamb to the rest of the field. You know what I mean? He is just not going to do it. I don’t know. I thought Kurt Busch…his strategy…if everybody would have followed him in the second round right there, everybody would have been faster. He didn’t make the top-12 and didn’t even try to draft. I don’t know. It’s just hard to be that guy, to give somebody else the pole. You just don’t want to do that. Shows you how competitive our drivers are, you know what I mean? Everybody feels like they have a chance if they get the right draft, and they do really. The top-12 in our sport is this much. It’s a hair. It’s so close. It’s down to a thousandths of a second. Every little bit matters, and we are all trying to get that little bit.”
AUSTIN, YOU WON BOTH ROUNDS THAT WERE RAN. RCR IS ON AN UPSWING. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET A POLE FOR RCR?
“That is why I kind of talked about being frustrated on the radio. I’m a competitor. It hasn’t been an uphill battle. We just haven’t gotten the finishes that we thought we deserved. The cars have had speed each and every weekend, and we’ve kind of take ourselves out of the race. This feels great, and I feel like we had the fastest car at Las Vegas also but we weren’t able to take home a pole or win. Everyone at RCR puts in so much effort and this is just a testimate to that. A pole means a lot. It’s been a while. I think the last one was when I got one here a couple of years ago. That’s a long time between poles. It feels good to bring another back. This is a good track for us.”
WHAT CHANGES BETWEEN FRIDAY AND SUNDAY?
“I think we have just tried to get a little too much out of our cars the first little bit of the year, and it may have hurt us in race trim. At this point, I’ve felt like we’ve balanced our car to race a little bit differently to race better, so it should be a great showing on Sunday for us. Phoenix was an awesome race for us. We had a fast car all weekend long. A competitive car. Short tracks for that package. That is positive going forward. We literally just didn’t get the car full last weekend at Phoenix. We were going to finish fifth and I was saving fuel and we had a shot to run third, we had the lap times to do it. I was lifting at the finish line the last 25 laps but it just wasn’t enough. We made a mistake. And we are going to make mistakes. I make mistakes constantly. Our team will. But we have each others backs and we will fight through it and get better. I am just proud to have Stockman and the guys supporting each other; supporting me. I’m proud of the team we have built.”
WHERE IS YOUR BLACK COWBOY HAT?
“My cowboy hat? My hair got pretty! I learned how to style my hair. I have a good barber shop. I’ll give a good plug to Washington Park Barber Shop in Winston Salem. It’s right behind the best fried chicken you will ever eat – Slappy’s n Winston Salem. I’ll give my boys at home a shout out there.”
HOW DO YOU PUT A QUALIFYING ROUND LIKE THIS INTO PERSPECTIVE WITH YOUR LIFETIME IN THIS SPORT? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN COMPARE IT TO?
“Here is the thing that is a bit frustrating. We’ve done this before. And we’ve gone down the path. I don’t understand what was going to be different. It is what it is. We tried it. But NASCAR does do a good job of making changes to move forward. It’s not like they aren’t going to address this situation. I feel like this situation will be addressed and we will make changes. I don’t like being negative about anything. Negativity brings people down and I like to be a positive person and surround myself with positive people. I’m not going to bash anybody. I feel like we will make changes accordingly and I will do whatever they need me to do move forward. The playing field was the same for everybody. That is the main thing and that is what we try to do here.
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