Austin Dillon: Gaining Experience, Going After Rookie of the Year

[media-credit name=”Sal Sigala Jr.” align=”alignleft” width=”301″][/media-credit]As Austin Dillon continues up the racing ladder, this year marked an important year as he made the move from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to the NASCAR Nationwide Series. So far this year, he sits fourth in points, 30 points behind teammate Elliott Sadler.

“I’m very happy to the start of the season,” he told me before Bristol. “We went to all three races running every lap and we just keep gaining on it each week. The experience level is lacking and once we get that figured out and how to adjust these cars, we’ll be fine.”

In the first four races of the season, the 21-year-old has finished fifth, fourth, seventh and 12th. The success he has had so far has impressed a lot of people, including Denny Hamlin.


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“I feel like they’re both kind of living up to expectations,” Hamlin said of Dillon and Cole Whitt during his media availability at Bristol. “They’re doing kind of exactly what you would hope that they would do, not what you necessarily thought they would do. I think they’re doing a very, very good job. I’ve watched them a little bit and it just seemed like they’ve both got the talent to make it. You can see it right from the beginning. Some drivers have the speed and can go and not tear up equipment right from the beginning and it looks like those two especially have that and that’s what can make you successful not just at that level, but the following one.”

Coming into Bristol this weekend, Dillon knew it was going to be wild.

“We run pretty well once we get into the race,” he said. “We’ll work hard tomorrow. It’s going to be a pretty wild race.”

Dillon started the race in the ninth position and ran just outside the top 10 most of the time, picking up valuable experience.

In continuing to gain experience, Dillon expects to do well this year.

“We want to win rookie of the year, that’s our first goal,” he said. “If we have a shot at the championship at homestead, then we want to win it.” He added that the main goal is to keep themselves up there while winning some races.

Teammate Elliott Sadler has already won two races, including Bristol this weekend, which shows the strength of the organization.

“Our Nationwide program is very fast right now,” he said. “We’re being able to show speed each week. We’re still pushing hard where we want to be. Everybody wants to be better each and every week.”

He adds that the Cup side of RCR looks strong also with how Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard have been running.

Dillon says that having teammates with experience like Sadler and Harvick, he’s able to learn from them.

Dillon, grandson of car owner Richard Childress, has been around racing his entire life. The first time he got in the race car was in a bandolero on a quarter mile behind Charlotte Motor Speedway at the age of 15.

As the season goes, there are many tracks that the series will be going to, including two of Dillon’s favorites.

“I’ve won at Iowa and that’s one of my favorite places that I enjoy, and racing at Michigan,” he said. “We’ve been close there.

Last season, Dillon had a great season as he won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship. Right now though, the focus is on the Nationwide Series.

“I’m sure there’ll be one day that we’ll be able to look back on our season and really cherish everything that we were able to accomplish last year,” he said.


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