From kissing dirt in Ohio to kissing bricks in Indiana, third-generation racer makes his own name
Austin Dillon will make his Indianapolis Motor Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut on Sunday in the Crown Royal presents the Samuel Deeds 400 powered by BigMachineRecords.com, driving the No. 33 Mycogen Seeds Chevrolet. As part of the “Countdown to the 20th Running At The Brickyard,” Dillon -- who will also run Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at IMS -- talks about his days at Indy with his grandfather, Richard Childress, and his thoughts heading into this milestone weekend in the following first-person blog.
One down. Two to go.
Last night’s race at Eldora Speedway was an experience of a lifetime. It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to win the first NASCAR national series dirt race in more than 40 years. But I’ll try: Amazing. Stunning. Unbelievable.
And fun. Rarely have I had that much fun racing. What a show! I hope the fans enjoyed watching it as much as I did driving it.
Now, it’s on to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’m going from one storied race track to another.
I can’t really remember how old I was when I first went to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think I was 6 or 7. But I definitely remember what happened when I got there.
I remember walking around the track on race day with Pop Pop (Richard Childress, Austin’s grandfather) and fans were dangling clipboards over the fence from fishing lines, asking for autographs.
Even as a little kid, I realized that NASCAR had some pretty intense fans. But, heck, I thought it was really cool! I remember Pop Pop turning to me and saying, “One day, you’re going to be doing this.”
Maybe he was right. And maybe that day is Sunday, when I make my Brickyard debut in the Sprint Cup Series. I plan to walk that same area, and I’m going to think back to that day with my grandfather so many years ago. It’ll be pretty special.
On Sunday, I’ll be driving the No. 33 Mycogen Seeds Chevy, and you know what -- I want to win.
That might seem like a lofty goal, but so what? I have nothing to lose. We’re going to go after it, and you never know. But we’ll also be smart. Fuel strategy can play a big role at Indianapolis, and if we play it just right, you might see us in Victory Lane. Talk about a dream come true.
While I might not have much experience at Indy, I know plenty of people who do. Two of my Richard Childress Racing teammates are Brickyard champions. I’m pretty close with Paul Menard, so I’ll definitely pick his brain for some tips. I was in Victory Lane with him when he won the Brickyard 400 in 2011, and it’s something I’ll never forget.
I haven’t called Kevin Harvick yet, but when I get to the track, I’ll hunt him down. Kevin’s outstanding at the Brickyard, of course. I wasn’t in Victory Lane when he won in 2003, but I was at the track. I was 13 years old when he “Kissed the Bricks,” and probably cheered louder than anyone when he did it.
I’ll lean on those two guys a lot, but all the advice in the world doesn’t add up to actual seat time. I learned a good bit in last year’s Nationwide race, and will get another lesson in this Saturday’s Nationwide event. Hopefully that translates to a solid finish on Sunday.
It’s a great track. I’ve never been at a place that was so smooth but had so much grip in my life. The fans are going to be in for a real treat -- the Gen-6 car is going to be really fast on Sunday.
Come Sunday, I will have run four races in eight days -- including last night’s truck race at Eldora and last Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway. Someone asked if I was afraid that I might be exhausted by the time the Indy Cup race rolled around. I looked at him funny, and said, “No man! I love this stuff. This is what I live for!”
Eldora by night? Indianapolis Motor Speedway by day? This is an historic week, and I get to take part in it. Seriously, does it get any better than that?