News & Media


Six Pack of Pop: Dillon makes statement with hat, horsepower

June 19, 2012, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

Austin Dillon says his grandfather, Richard Childress, and John Wayne were major influences in his current style. (Autostock)

Dillon's fashion statement makes him look like he could drive cattle, not cars

Austin Dillon won his first career Nationwide Series pole Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. The driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing answers this week's six questions.

1. What's the deal with wearing the cowboy hat all the time these days?

"I try not to do some of the things my dad has done in a race car -- staying out of the fence and things like that."

--AUSTIN DILLON

Dillon: Well, getting to grow up around my grandfather [team owner Richard Childress], and growing up, my hero was John Wayne. I used to watch a lot of John Wayne movies with my grandfather while we were out in Montana, and we've got a lot of pictures from when we were younger, me and my brother both, going camping and horseback riding and wearing our cowboy hats.

This latest deal started when I wore a cowboy hat at Texas or somewhere for a truck race. I have a country music singer who is up and coming, Tim Dugger, and he's one of my buddies. He kept coming up to me and saying, "Man, you should wear that cowboy hat more often. You look good in it. You wear it well." So I started wearing it again, and now it's become like a regular ballcap for me. I can't take it off my head. It fits good. I have fun wearing it, and I wear it everywhere I go now.

2. With Father's Day this past weekend, could you reflect on what your father [Mike Dillon, competition director at RCR] has meant to you in life and in your racing career?

Dillon: I think my dad's personality is where I get the flair for what I do and in how I act. You're a reflection of your parents, I guess, and that's how I've always been. I try not to do some of the things my dad has done in a race car -- staying out of the fence and things like that (laughing).

But my dad has taught me a lot, especially about life and about how to act as a person. I don't know what I'd be doing without that. He's been hard on me in the race car because he's been there and done that and he wants what's best for me. I love having his support each and every weekend.

3. What are the advantages to running both a Nationwide and Cup car like you did at Michigan?

Dillon: Getting in the Cup car on Friday [for two practices] really helped me going into the Nationwide [qualifying and] race. It gave me some confidence going into [Saturday]. I really see the advantages of being able to practice in a Cup car before jumping in the Nationwide car. I was always good when I jumped out of my crate car and got in a super late model and then came back to a crate late model when I ran on dirt. It makes you just a little bit more aggressive because you figure you know what's out there.

4. How would you sum up your Nationwide race, finishing fifth after winning the pole?

Dillon: It's hard to restart on the bottom on a late-race restart without getting pinched down going into the corner [at Michigan]. We had a really fast AdvoCare Chevrolet in the closing stages of the race, and that's a testament to how hard the RCR team works. We had a good points day, and that's good since we're heading into a road course at Road America next weekend.

5. And how about the 24th-place finish you had in Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 Sprint Cup race?

Dillon: [Crew chief] Gil Martin did an awesome job knowing what I needed in the car as a rookie. He made the car tight enough for me at the beginning of the race. The radio in the car broke, and it caused us to go one lap down. If it wasn't for that, we would have had a chance at a top-15 finish.

6. You aren't going to try to steal Richard Petty's thunder on cowboy hats are you?

Dillon: Well, we do get our hats from the same place. He wears Charley One Horse's [custom cowboy hats], and that's what I'm wearing now.