Motorsports Insider: Austin Dillon no stranger to growing limelight or accepting pressure

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Series updates Sprint Cup Top seed: Jimmie Johnson has tied Matt Kenseth for victories, each with three, as they vie for the top seed in the Chase. This week, they visit Michigan, where Kenseth has won and Johnson has not. Junior anniversary: Dale Earnhardt Jr. returns to the site of his drought-breaking victory last year. He goes with momentum — his top-five last week pushed him to fourth in driver points. Entered: Austin Dillon and Trevor Bayne will make Cup starts at Michigan. Camping World Truck Country’s best: German Quiroga’s third-place finish at TMS last week made him the highest-finishing Mexican driver in NASCAR’s top three series. Pedro Rodriguez was fifth in a 600-mile race in 1965 at Charlotte. IndyCar In the No. 4: Ryan Briscoe will drive the No. 4 for Panther Racing at Milwaukee. Oriol Servia is in the car at June 23 at Iowa. They said it “Jimmie and I are in a really good spot. Jimmie is switched on right now. He’s as good or better than I’ve ever seen him.” Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief

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Austin Dillon knows where he is headed, or at least would like to be headed.

That’s a valuable attitude for anybody trying to climb the NASCAR ladder, getting into better and better rides.

He doesn’t have to worry about getting a foot in the door, being the grandson of Richard Childress. But he wants to keep the attitude that has gotten him this far.

“Oh, yeah, we’re out here trying to break records and create a name for ourselves,” he said in a conference call with reporters this week, talking about his chance to earn a record fourth consecutive pole in the Nationwide Series.

If he does, he’d set himself apart from a group that includes Sam Ard, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip. Trevor Bayne joined the group just last year.

“That group of people you just named is an awesome group of people to be held up against, so if we can go out there and break that six-way tie that it is right now in the Nationwide Series for poles, it would be amazing,” Dillon said. “We’re going to a track where I’m very capable of setting the pole. We’ve got ECR engines, some great horsepower this year.

“Hopefully we can get it done this weekend.”

Dillon is in his second full season in Nationwide. Two years ago, he won the Camping World Truck Series championship. Next year, he’s expected to get a Cup ride with Richard Childress Racing.

Poles, laps — it all helps.

“I think most of all, these races that we have this year, is to run all the laps,” he said. “I think it’s very important to gain experience throughout a full run.

“You go through lots of changes in a Cup race where you have many stops, pit stops and changes, so the cars change a lot more throughout a long run, and just trying to keep up with those and making sure we don’t get out early in these Cup races where we can’t use that experience to help us for next year. I think that’s really big, like I said, to finish these races, gain that experience so you have a little bit of a notebook going into next year.”

Dillon is not exactly under the radar. RCR brought out the No. 3 car for him to run in the Nationwide Series.

The No. 3 hadn’t been used since the death of Dale Earnhardt. In 1990, Earnhardt put the No. 3 into Victory Lane at Michigan in a Cup race. Dillon has his chance to do the same thing this weekend in a Nationwide car.

“Well, any time you can put that 3 car in victory lane, it’s huge,” he said. “The fans love to see it run well, but at a place where it was so successful like Indy, the Brickyard, to go back there and put it in Victory Lane would be crazy. I wouldn’t know what the feeling would be like. It’s our second race there ever, and to put a 3 back in Victory Lane would be very cool. Very special.”

Dillon made a name for himself winning the trucks championship. He will find growing pressure to perform. He said he can deal with that by staying grounded.

“I never feel like I’ve made it,” he said. “Jimmie Johnson, he’s a great example. I don’t think he feels like he’s made it because he keeps going out there each and every weekend and winning races. Just go out there and stay focused and know that I have goals that I want to accomplish, and hopefully in the end I can accomplish most of them.”

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

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