Throughout the season, Rob Tiongson interviews various drivers and personalities in the world of NASCAR. Today, he catches up with Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro fielded by Richard Childress Racing.
By ROB TIONGSON
I think I’m always relying on morals and never trying to go too far from what I was taught as a kid in being nice to others. For me, I love being me as far as going out and doing what I like to do - racing, hunting, fishing, the outdoors, enjoying time with friends and family. I guess that’s just me. I’m pretty open with what I do in my off-time. I love sports, competition, and I don’t know how I would be able to hide who I really am.
I feel like as time has gone on, it’s been harder and harder to do that because you see things that have gone wrong in the past of being out there for people. You’re constantly looked at under a microscope and it’s tough sometimes. It can make you not want to be yourself or be more to yourself because someone always has an opinion of what you think or do, right or wrong. It’s just an opinion. I think that’s the one thing that’s helped me. It’s knowing that some people aren’t going to like me and some people are and being OK with that. Some athletes are’t OK with not being liked and I think that’s why they start being closed off or less personable because they don’t want to let that negativity in. I think that comes from a state of (where) you can’t really care because people, no matter how good or perfect you are or try to say or do the right things, aren’t always going to like you for one reason or another.
Justin has this calm about him. I’m a fiery guy and I’ve definitely learned that I need someone around me who’s not exactly the same and can put calm over my emotions. And that’s what he’s always been able to do. He’s really been able to focus my attention in the right direction and make me work hard in the areas that I need to be focused on, not in other areas. He takes my mind and puts it in the right place and not get scatterbrained, worrying about things that don’t matter. Justin’s always been able to pull that from me. After we split up, it was one of those things where he handled the situation and the way he went through it the following year, it taught me a lot. I’m really glad to be working with him because he’s really good at what he does.
I think it’s cool. I was hoping to do a little more and show more at the track. But I think COVID hit during their filming and we were supposed to have concessions as far as being at the track. I think that kind of changed their plans. But it was cool to show who I am with the scene with me and Blaney hanging out, talking about winning the Daytona 500 or my height, any of that stuff is just funny and cool. I’m glad there’s a show they’re working on through NASCAR. I haven’t gotten to watch the episodes. I’ve heard mixed and good reviews and some that are like, “Man, I don’t know, it’s goofy.” I think it’s cool and great for our sport to bring us different audiences. Sitcoms are different. Some people like them and some don’t. I’ve never really gotten into them but I’m sure I’m going to sit down and watch this when I have some time.
I think I’d have to give some credit to Carl Edwards for the backflip. I thought it was cool that somebody was doing something different than just getting out, cheering, and moving on or doing doughnuts only. I just thought it would be something nice to have something to go along with what you do when you win. When there’s grass and I win, I’m going to end up doing the slide. Now I will say that as I age, it doesn’t go as well when you hit the paint and scorpion over your back. So, yea, the first time, it was supposed to be a slide but I learned real quick that you can’t slide on paint. At Texas, when I won the Cup race (last year), I was literally too tired to get out. I don’t know if I would’ve made it back to the car. I went to the infield care center as soon as the race was over because I was so dehydrated. It was just something that I wanted to do that was different and creative in terms of a celebration that nobody else has done. It was fun and I’ll still do it when I feel good enough and the grass is slick.