NASCAR CUP SERIES
CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS
ECHOPARK TEXAS GRAND PRIX
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MAY 18, 2021
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 WORKRISE CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Press Conference Transcript:
WHERE DO YOU THINK THE BEST PASSING ZONES ARE GOING TO BE?
“I think the best passing zones are probably on all the big straights. The S’s are pretty tight; you can’t really gain anything there. Turn 11 is probably the best.”
“I’m not very good at the numbers of each corner; I’d have to have a map in front of me. But I think Turn 11 is onto the main backstretch; that one before you get to the stadium section. Obviously, lengthening the straightaways as much as you can is huge and in the final corner. I’m just not good with the numbers, but into the stadium section on the downhill braking zone, leaving the last corner, and then the one before the big straightaway are the three that I see that will be the most important. Turn One, up the hill, you can out-brake someone into there, but it gets tight quick. I think the first three I named are probably the big ones. But Turn One is a struggle to really get off of that corner sometimes, in what I’ve noticed. You can maybe get someone on entry, but it’s probably going to put you in a bad position leaving.”
THIS WEEKEND, WE’RE RACING IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, WHERE WORKRISE, YOUR PRIMARY SPONSOR FOR THE WEEKEND, IS LOCATED. HOW COOL IS THAT TO BE ABLE TO RACE IN THEIR BACKYARD?
“Yeah, I encourage everyone to go to Workrise.com. They are the leading workforce management, solutions and skilled trades. They are an awesome company to be working with. I’m pumped that it’s in their hometown of Austin, Texas. You can check out Workrise’s social media. There are some cool stuff coming up this week promoting the race. It’s awesome to have them. Last year, we had them on our car one race and this year, they changed their brand to Workrise and it’s awesome to be having a race at COTA, in Austin, where they are based out of. Can’t wait to get there and hopefully put on a good showing for everyone at Workrise. They are there for the people that get stuff done and we’re pump to be working hard for them this weekend.”
AJ ALLMENDINGER WAS SAYING THAT HE EXPECTS IT TO BE CHAOS GOING INTO TURN ONE AT COTA. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS RACE, GIVEN THAT IT’S A NEW TRACK FOR THE SERIES?
“Yeah, I think Turn One will be aggressive, for sure. I have to qualify into the NASCAR Xfinity race, so luckily, we’ll have some experience after Saturday to see how that goes. But Turn One is a tough corner for any type of car to race on and not just our cars in NASCAR. It’s difficult because it kind of falls away from you. You’re going uphill and then it flattens out; just a lot of stuff going on there and it gets tight quick. There’s definitely going to be some chaos. If you miss Turn One on the bottom, that outside lane is probably really going to check up.”
I’VE HEARD THIS TRACK DESCRIBED AS TWO OR THREE DIFFERENT ROAD COURSES IN ONE. DO YOU FEEL IT’S LIKE THAT OR DOES IT REMIND YOU OF ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU’VE EVER HAD TO DEAL WITH?
“I would say the only thing lately that we’ve done is the Daytona Road Course; a lot of different types of cornering. Obviously, Daytona has that banking that you deal with off of Turn Four and it’s flatter, but just a lot of different challenges. The tight section on the back and then you have a big sweeper after that. So, you want to be able to turn as good as you can through that stuff. But then you know you have to carry a lot of speed through a corner that being free probably isn’t the best thing for. So, having a balance for all that’s going on is going to be tough. You’re going to see guys that really excel in certain corners and struggle in others.”
THIS STARTS A STRETCH OF FIVE OF THE NEXT ELEVEN POINTS-RACES ON ROAD COURSES. WHAT KIND OF A CHALLENGE, OR MAYBE IT’S OPPORTUNITY, IS THIS STRETCH FOR YOU?
“I think it’s definitely challenging, knowing that we’re going to some places for the first time. I know it looks like there could be rain this weekend at COTA; I’ve never really done that. But we’ll just take it and do the best we can. We’ve been solid all year long. Daytona (Road Course) was a positive for me, as a road course racer. I got stage points in both stages and we were on our way to running a top-10 finish. We just have to go out there, attack, be aggressive, and try to take the things that I’ve learned in the off-season and use them to my advantage. And just try to get better at each and every road course that we go to. We know that there’s going to be some challenges ahead, but we’ll do the best with what we have.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT YOUR TEAM HAS DONE THIS YEAR AND BUILT TO THIS POINT?
“We’ve been pretty consistent week in and week out. Just showing up and doing our job; keeping all four tires on the ground and working hard to make the car better throughout the race. I thought last weekend was a bit disappointing because we ran inside the top-10 all day and ended up with a 14th-place finish. But we were able to get some stage points and that’s what we need to do is keep collecting stage points. Without a win, you have to have those. Hopefully we get a win here soon. There’s a lot of guys out there hunting for that and we’re one of them. There are some good tracks sprinkled in with tracks that we know that we have to do our best at to have good runs. Charlotte (Motor Speedway )is right after COTA and Charlotte is a great one for me. We’ll get to COTA and see what we have. I was able to do that race in the off-season; I think that was pretty big. If it rains this weekend, it will be a new challenge, so we’ll see how it goes.”
WITH THE PRACTICE SESSION YOU’RE GETTING THIS WEEKEND, THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSION THAT HAVEN’T BEEN ON A SUPERSPEEDWAY OR DIRT TRACK IN 14 MONTHS: WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOUR TEAM SHOULD BE WORKING ON DURING THAT 50-MINUTE PRACTICE THAT YOU HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO FOR WELL OVER A YEAR?
“That’s a good point. We have to execute during practice and try and gain as much time on the track as we can. Get in a bunch of laps and you can try and make adjustments if you have some things that you haven’t gone out and done, just because of the unknown, and try and get through those. I think everybody is going to be in a position where, how do you practice and how do you communicate well to get your stuff better after each run. It’ll be like back in time like, what feels like forever ago, where we had a practice session where we could adjust on the car and try to get it better. We’re going to a new track, so there’s a lot of things, like heights, that are going to be so important. Just to get the heights right, it could take 50 minutes. 50 minutes isn’t really a long time. We used to have two, long practices and a happy hour to go along with it. It’s still going to feel quick, as far as the timing passing. It takes such a long time to make a lap at COTA that you’ll probably run out of time pretty quick.”
TALK ABOUT HOW LIFE-CHANGING FATHERHOOD HAS BEEN FOR YOU?
“It’s been awesome. I enjoy my time with Ace and Whitney. I’ve always been close with my family and it’s awesome to have a family of my own. Anytime you get to see Ace do something new is just special. We’re having a lot of fun right now. I’m glad they get to come to the track with me and Ace is getting to experience some of that. While he’s really young and doesn’t really know what’s going on all the time, he still enjoys just being with his mom and dad. It makes the good days better and the bad days good, too. It’s awesome having a kid and I’ve enjoyed it.”
YOU AND TYLER REDDICK ARE BOTH IN THE TOP-16 IN POINTS. AT THIS POINT, YOU BOTH WOULD MAKE IT INTO THE PLAYOFFS. IT’S BEEN THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2015 THAT TWO RCR CARS HAD BEEN THERE. WHAT DO YOU POINT TO FOR THE TURNAROUND?
“I think we’re doing a good job of just being consistent, week in and week out. I’m asking for more from our group, just trying to figure out where that next little bit of speed is because Chevrolet is so good right now. Obviously, Hendrick Motorsports has kind of carried the banner, but we’ve been right there at a lot of places and been able to compete with those guys. We’ve kind of held ourselves to them because the partnership that we have and we have to pick it up just like this much. I feel like every weekend, we’re an eighth to 12th-place car. We need to make that next jump to a fourth to eighth-place car, and then you’re looking at having chances to win races when everything lays out with pit stops and strategy. But if you’re in that fourth to eighth, you’re getting opportunities to win races quite often. We’ve got to make that next little jump, where our bad days aren’t 14th, but our bad days are 10th or eighth. And then, you’re really out there challenging for wins and you feel confident where you’re at each and every weekend. RCR, ECR and Chevrolet are doing a good job bringing good cars to the track. Tyler (Reddick) and I both work hard at everything we can during the week and so do our teams. We’re pumped to get to the track and see what we can gain on each and every week.”
DO YOU GET EXCITED GOING INTO A PLACE, LIKE CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY, WHERE YOU’VE WON BEFORE?
“Yeah, I am. I’ve got Nashville (Superspeedway) after that, too. Nashville, I won the last Truck race there and finished third in the Xfinity race before they closed it down. So, Charlotte and Nashville are two really big places that we know we have to go there with guns loaded and see if we can pop off a win. They’re places we can do it, so we’re pumped to get to those two tracks. You never know, maybe we’ll do something spectacular at a road course, too.”
THE COCA-COLA 600 OBVIOUSLY HAS A LOT OF MEANING TO YOU, BEING YOUR FIRST CUP SERIES WIN, YOUR HOMETRACK, MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND, COCA-COLA; ALL OF THE TIE-IN’S ARE THERE FOR YOU. EMOTIONALLY, IT’S A BIG RACE. WHAT MAKES THAT RACE AS CHALLENGING NOW AS IT DID BACK IN THE DAY WHERE ‘CAN MY CAR SURVIVE’ WAS PREDOMINANT?
“Having a clean race is challenging; making no mistakes. You’re just in the car for a long period of time; it’s hot. You come down pit road a lot and there’s just a lot of moment for error; more than what we’re used to. My goals going into that race is to have a clean race and find yourself in a great position toward the end. Obviously, if you have the speed to win it, that’s even better. But having a clean race is part of having a chance to win it. I think a lot of people have taken themselves out of that race with early mistakes. We’ll do our best to be there at the end. I think the long races have suited me in the past. We’ll see what we got. I think we’ve got some good history there and a good baseline setup. Our 550-horsepower package has been pretty strong I think for the most part. Charlotte takes a little different mechanical idea than some of the 1.5-mile tracks that we go to. I always look forward to that track.”
FOR THE COTA RACE THIS WEEKEND, WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU’RE LOOKING FOR IN PRACTICE?
“The first run out will be about the travels; making sure we get our travels right so we’re not on the track or too high. We usually error towards the higher side. The curbing is obviously something that we’ll look at before we hit the track, but what can we take advantage of and what can we not. If there’s a corner that’s just really difficult for us mechanically, we’ll start working on that, and making sure my brakes feel good. We’ll be checking the brake temperatures because this track is going to be very hard our cars, as far as trying to get stopped. The amount of speed you’ll be carrying at some of these straightaways is going to be a lot, so trying to keep the brakes underneath the car will be big.”
COTA HAS ALSO HOSTED FORMULA 1 RACES. DOES THAT MAKE THIS RACE ANY MORE SPECIAL TO YOU?
“I think it’s just a cool venue. Watkins Glen used to have Formula 1 races a long time ago. The history of any kind of track is awesome. That’s why I thought the Brickyard is so special, getting to race on the oval with so many historical races there. I was talking to one of my old engineers, trying to get some notes from him. Even though it probably doesn’t apply to anything, it’s just cool to see his track notes that they used when they raced at COTA.”
WITH YOU DOING DOUBLE DUTY THIS WEEKEND, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT THE LEADERSHIP AT RCR HAS GIVEN YOU, LIKE A CHECKLIST OF THINGS YOUR TEAM NEEDS TO HELP PREPARE FOR SUNDAY? WHAT’S THE COMMUNICATION GOING TO BE LIKE BETWEEN THE TWO DIFFERENT OPERATIONS YOU’RE GOING TO BE RACING WITH THIS WEEKEND?
“I think anything I can learn, driving-wise, and anything I’ll bring to the table to our Cup team after practice. Just the laps on the track will probably be the biggest thing. But mechanically, it’s a little different, because they have a different right-height rule and it’s just different. So mechanically, probably not a whole lot. Maybe air pressure – if there’s something we learn there, I could apply it.”
LOOKING AT THE COCA-COLA 600, WHAT DID THAT WIN MEAN FOR YOUR CAREER?
“I think it was just confidence, more than anything, that I have a win in the NASCAR Cup Series. Driving the No. 3 car means a lot to me to be able to put that number back into victory lane for RCR and for my family. The first win means so much to so many. It goes a long way. It gave me confidence leading into some of the other wins that we’ve gotten to know that we’ve been in those situations, been able to make something happen and finish it off. Finishing it off I think is a big part of some of the NASCAR drivers; the guys that finish it when it matters.”
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