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Dillon ready for next step on his journey

November 15, 2011, Joe Menzer,

Thankful for his grandfather's plan, possible Truck champ turns to Nationwide

Austin Dillon, who hopes to nail down a Camping World Truck Series championship this Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, answers this week's six questions.

1. How excited are you to be running the Nationwide Series full time starting next season?

"So I want to thank him for doing the right thing and putting me in great equipment. Then I just had to go out and prove it every time out."

--AUSTIN DILLON on Richard Childress

Dillon: I'm really looking forward to the Nationwide races. It's something I've been looking forward to for a long time. The Nationwide Series I will be running in next year is a tough series. But I feel like what we've done in the Truck Series the last two years is really going to prepare us for what's ahead going forward. Hopefully we can seal this championship off and make that a good step forward as we move on to the Nationwide Series.

2. Are you sometimes amazed at how quickly you've found success at every level you've raced?

Dillon (laughing): I want to thank my Mom and my grandmother for giving me all my talent. But seriously, I think running the short tracks, I feel like my grandfather [Richard Childress of Richard Childress Racing] put me in the right place to run [at first] -- and that was in the dirt cars. We were able to go out and run race cars at 800-horsepower that weighed 2,300 pounds. And if you can drive an 800-horsepower race car that weighs 2,300 pounds, and you get in one of these [Nationwide cars] it actually seems a little bit easier.

So we took the right steps. The competition is so tough in the dirt series. When we moved over here [to the Truck Series], it was almost like taking a breather. It was harder running those dirt cars. You get in an asphalt car then and you can tell how much it helped. So I want to thank him for doing the right thing and putting me in great equipment. Then I just had to go out and prove it every time out.

3. How difficult has it been for you to be patient and not beg your grandfather and your father [Mike Dillon, competition director at RCR] to move you along even more quickly?

Dillon: I feel like I was in a fortunate situation, taking our time and making sure we were winning races and doing well in whatever series we were running. I feel like now is the time to move to Nationwide. I feel like I ran really well in the four races I ran earlier this year for KHI [Kevin Harvick Inc.]. It's cool that all the cars from KHI and the car I'll be driving will be moving into the RCR shop [next season]. I'm getting to bring my team up [from the Truck Series], too, so that's good. I think it's going to be fun for all of us and I'm glad, like I said, that we took our time doing it.

4. Who will you lean on the most for advice?

Dillon: I've grown up in the garage and I know a lot of the drivers out there. I feel like I can go to any of them for information. Kevin Harvick is a great one I can go to. He's won a Nationwide championship [in 2006]. I'll have him next year, and Paul Menard is going to run up there and Elliott Sadler. So I'm really looking forward to working with those guys.

The biggest difference between the Trucks and Nationwide is the platform and the way they travel. The suspension works just a little bit different. But I really feel like the [Nationwide] races that we did run really helped me learn.

5. How do you feel about getting to drive against some of the top talent in the garage?

Dillon: It seems like everybody is worried about the Cup guys coming into Nationwide or the Truck Series and running against us younger guys. But I think it's great that they do that. If you can beat them, it really proves that you can outrun 'em and that you belong at the next level. I look forward to racing against Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick ... Jimmie Johnson. I wish Jimmie would run more Nationwide races because he's pretty much the man, as he's proved the last five years. But anybody you run against like that, I like it. It's fun and it's challenging.

6. What's your strategy to secure this Camping World Truck Series championship heading into Homestead?

Dillon: I feel like any time you start playing defense, that's when things go wrong. I want to keep playing offense. ... I feel like we've got a great team. We've worked really hard all year long to put ourselves in this position, so let's go take it.