MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 27, 2019
TY DILLON, NO. 13 GEICO CAMARO ZL1, met with media and discussed his 100th career start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, what the cars and the racing will be like on Sunday in the GEICO 500 at Talladega, his long-term relationship with Germain Racing and GEICO and how they are growing together, what Talladega Superspeedway means to him, and more. Full Transcript:
YOU ARE CELEBRATING 100 NASCAR STARTS IN THE MONSTER ENERGY CUP SERIES. TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT MILESTONE AND YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT IT
“Wow, 100 starts in the Monster Energy Cup Series means a lot to me. Obviously I grew up in this sport, watching the races, since I was able to even open my eyes and look at a TV and go to a race track. So, personally, in my career, to be making my 100th start is huge. And to do it at a track the means a lot to us, at a team, and with the GEICO 500, it’s funny how it all lined up, but maybe it’s lining up for just the perfect story. And, it’s been a great 100 races, but I’m looking forward to 100 more and this being our first win on number 100. And, because we love you guys (the media) so much, we brought you 200 donuts on behalf of GEICO and Germain and myself. We brought you guys a little snack.”
TALLADEGA IS ALSO A TRACK WHERE YOUR GRANDFATHER, RICHARD CHILDRESS, HAD SO MUCH SUCCESS AS A CAR OWNER. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU AND MAKING YOUR 100th START HERE?
“This is where some of the biggest breaks in the lineage of our family has happened. There is so much success here with my grandfather and Dale (Earnhardt, Sr.) and RCR in general and for myself. One of the biggest moments in my career was being able to drive for Tony Stewart when he hurt his back. The final race of that stint, we had had a really good run in that No. 14 car and probably should have finished in the top 10 at Bristol. We were running inside the top 10 and got moved around by Dale Jr. with inside 20 to go. On the last race, Tony was feeling better. His back was healing but he wasn’t comfortable with running the full race. It was my last opportunity to get in the car and we did the switch during the race and I hopped in the car and finished sixth unofficially. It gave Tony another top 10, like he needed it. But, that would have been my first top 10. Just that moment, coming here at Talladega, I won an ARCA race here and it’s a very historic track for NASCAR and it means a lot to my family and myself.”
SWITCHING GEARS TO THIS SEASON, YOU STARTED OFF THE SEASON WITH A TOP 10 AT THE DAYTONA 500. DOES THAT GIVE YOU SOME CONFIDENCE COMING INTO THIS WEEKEND AND TOMORROW’S RACE?
“Yeah, I don’t know if that’s correct, but I think three of the last four Superspeedway races we’ve finished sixth here last year in one of the races. So, we have good success. I think superspeedways are an opportunity for us as much as short tracks now, where we can really show what we’re capable of. It kind of equalizes the field in our terms. When we get to 1.5-miles, we have a little bit of growth to do. That’s where the money war of being in the wind tunnel constantly is a tough battle. We’re getting there. We’re getting better as a team. But, when we come to superspeedways and short tracks we really look at these opportunities as our chance.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE DIFFERENCE YOU FELT IN THE CAR BETWEEN THE TWO PRACTICE SESSIONS WITH THE CHANGE AND HOW COMFORTABLE YOU ARE FOR THE RACE TOMORROW?
“I think NASCAR tried to slow down the cars when we got faster. I think what we’re doing is we’re punching a bigger hole through the air, which puts less air on the car behind you and you go faster. So, I don’t know exactly what we’re doing, but I think the racing is going to be good no matter what. It’s going to be crazy. I think the cars, the runs, and when you side-draft somebody and slow down the run, everything is happening twice as fast as it’s ever happened, which is tough to catch-up to for a lot of drivers. So, I think there’s going to be an adjustment period. And what that looks like in NASCAR is, I don’t know. We’ll see. But, I think when we put the wickers on, driving-wise; it made the cars looser, but it didn’t make us run any further apart. So, pull your seat belts tight for tomorrow. It’s going to be fun.”
WHEN THEY PUT THE WICKER ON THE CARS, IS THE FEELING SO MUCH DIFFERENT?
“It was for me. We went out in a small group and then we jumped into the big pack in the back of it and I kind of lagged back to get a big run just to get as much speed as I could jumping up to the pack. And when we ran our fastest lap, I lifted because I got so loose I was going to crash on my own and you don’t typically get that here. Like in the past with the previous set-up, and even in the first practice without the wicker, I could get big runs and the car wouldn’t really fobble. So, we saw that in some wind-tunnel testing that the car could get freer and just talking with some other drivers, they felt the same thing. I think it’s just that everybody is going to battle that a little bit. But, we had enough time yesterday to kind of adjust for it, so you might not hear about it anymore. But, just that small difference…. I think the biggest thing that it’s actually going to cause is you could just see less out of the back of these car. You’ve got that big spoiler and now you put a big metal line in the back of it, pretty much. And the viewing out is just terrible already. So, it just makes it a little bit tougher.”
ABOUT BLOCKING, HOW MUCH DO YOU BLOCK AND HOW MUCH WILL YOU CHANGE THAT? YESTERDAY, THE SPOTTERS WE SAYING IT’S GOING TO POTENTIALLY CHANGE THE VIEW ON BLOCKING
“There are going to be some people who can block and make it happen. But, blocking is going to be dangerous. The runs are happening so fast, you can’t hardly, physically, look in your mirror quick enough to block some of these runs and you’re going to be too late when you do. So, that’s why I’m saying pull your belts tight because the speed in which things are happening with this package is something we haven’t seen before, or I haven’t seen before at a speedway. And, I’ve run essentially the normal package, the low downforce package, and now this package. This is going to be the most intense one.”
FOR A FATHER’S DAY PIECE, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR DAD’S AND GRANDFATHER’S INFLUENCE? I KNOW IT’S PRETTY BIG.
“I think the biggest thing they taught me is I guess determination and perseverance throughout your career. My dad was successful in his own right in Late Models and even in the Xfinity Series, back in the day. I think he made one Cup start, filled-in for Dale (Earnhardt Sr.) at Rockingham. But my dad knows this sport more than just a driver. And everybody knows the history of my grandfather and how much he knows. Just having some of that knowledge throughout my career has been helpful. But also, you’ve got to kind of learn your own things too, and get your own opinions of the sport and where you belong. The next level from my career, I think, this year, is settling into who I am as a person in this sport and who I want myself to be. I’ve had some incredible teachers and some incredible experience passed down to me. But until I started kind of taking my own career path into my own hands and understanding who I am and who I want to be within this sport, it’s really taken me to another level of comfort ability and being a Cup driver.”
HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED FROM YOUR FIRST CUP START TO THIS WEEKEND MAKING YOUR 100th START? HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE SERIES AS A WHOLE CHANGE FROM WHERE YOU WERE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
“I think my first season, I thought I knew everything. I thought I was going to win the championship (laughs) right out of the gate and win all these races. I have just humbled myself a lot since then. I’ve been humbled and humbled myself as far as a driver. And then I think also, I’ve changed in just developing relationships and realizing how important that is on and off the track, to success on the track. I feel so grateful with where we’re at now, I think in five years I’ll look back and say man, I didn’t know what I was talking about then. But, things are going better. Every year you learn a little bit more. You grow a little bit more.
“That’s why I’m so thankful for the relationship with Germain Racing and GEICO. And it’s because of the long-term commitment to where Bob Germain and GEICO have say hey, we believe in you. We’re going to do this amount of time. We want to see growth. And that growth isn’t always straight up. Last year we kind of leveled-off for a while. But we grew in that time. And this year, you see us starting to rise. In four of nine races, we’ve been in the top 15. We finished sixth at Daytona and won a stage at Bristol. We’ve had our best year, by far, as a team, driver, and sponsor. And that’s all because of commitment to growth. I’m just so thankful for that opportunity in this sport. You don’t get that a lot of times. It’s year-to-year contracts with sponsors and teams. Sometimes the dollar number is different, which changes a lot of the performance. But, when you actually get the opportunity to grow over years, you build something that’s lasting. And, that’s what we’re building at Germain Racing. A lot of thanks to GEICO and Twisted Tea for their commitment.”
HOW MUCH DO YOU FEEL LIKE GERMAIN RACING HAS DEVELOPED WITH YOU ON-BOARD AND KEEPING YOU AS THE DRIVER? HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK IT’S DEVELOPED INTO A STRONGER TEAM SINCE YOU FIRST JOINED?
‘I think we’ve come a long way. I think our first year we took a big step from where the team was. In our rookie season we did some things that the team hasn’t done. Last year we were a little stagnant, I feel like, in our growth. I think that changing the car and a lot of things that were going on in the sport, I think that we just kind of got behind. But we all grew this year a ton. And, I know we’re all in a position where we look back at three years ago; and I can’t speak for Bob (Germain) and Larry (Rogers), but we’ve had conversations where we’re all very happy with the positive growth that we’re seeing in the race team. We know we’ve got a ways to go to be where we want to be. But just that, that we have a commitment to growth and that we’re starting to see some of that and reap some of the benefits of that.”
IT SOUNDS LIKE THE BIG RUNS ARE GOING TO BE KIND OF SKETCHY. THAT SOUNDS PRETTY SCARY TO ME, BUT YOU’RE SAYING THAT’S GOING TO BE FUN AND TO PULL THE BELTS TIGHT. WHAT IS THE MENTALITY FOR A DRIVER THAT YOU CAN GO OUT AND EMBRACE THAT INSTEAD OF FEAR IT?
“I think the thing is knowing that I don’t have a chance to change it before tomorrow, you know? We’re going to all be out there doing it, so we’re all going to have to embrace it, in a way; whether you’re kicking and screaming getting put in your car seat like a little kid, or if you’re going to go out there and say hey, it’s going to be wild but we’re going to do it. And, that’s just kind of the way I’m approaching it. But, I think the guy with the run, hopefully he’s smart enough and the guy in front of you, trying to block, is patient enough in the race because I think the way things are happening with the speed, over-aggressive people are going to find themselves in trouble times. So, if they think they can block, over-confident people in their ability to get a block off, I think is going to cause trouble. And, it’s just going to be wild, I think. I think you’re going to see a little bit different version. It’s going to look the same in ways. But inside the car things are happening so quick. And TV might not be able to show it as well. I don’t know what could happen. We could go green all the way through and not have a caution. But, I don’t know. I feel like it could be big early, just by the way the cars felt in the draft.”
EARLIER IN THE SEASON AT BRISTOL YOU HAD YOUR FIRST STAGE WIN. ARE YOU STILL RIDING SOME OF THE GOOD VIBES FROM THAT? OR, IS THE CHALLENGE TO SUSTAIN THAT AND REPLICATE IT AND DO THAT MORE ON A WEEK-IN, WEEK-OUT BASIS?
“I think definitely that’s the goal to sustain that week-in and week-out. We definitely are riding the momentum. I think the thing that we take from that is that we’re capable of doing it. And, I think whether we get that opportunity again this year, we’ll see. I think our biggest challenge and our biggest goal is week-in and week-out being in that top 15 consistently and get that locked-in, and that’ll give us opportunities to have a chance with a three-lap stage at the end to stay out and risk it and give us a shot. We’ve just got to be in that chance. We’ve got to be in that situation and that running position to give ourselves a chance at some points. I’m sure that we can do it and go head-to-head with the top team. If not, one of the top two or three teams right now, and beat them straight-up, same tires, was big for our team. That’s everlasting momentum for our team.”
YOUR BROTHER, AUSTIN DILLON, THREW OUT THE FIRST PITCH AT THE BRAVES GAME LAST NIGHT. DID YOU STEP-IN AND GIVE ANY ADVICE TO HIM?
“I didn’t see it, but I heard he bounced it. So, that’s sad (laughs). He was a great athlete. He went to Little League World Series, but apparently he’s lost it. So, he needs to get out there and warm it up again.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
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