CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The NASCAR Cup Series will make a stop at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28 for one of the sports Crown Jewel Races - the Coca-Cola 600.
Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon joined WCNC Charlotte to discuss preparing for the race, honoring those who have served our country, and what 600 miles of remembrance means to him.
Q: I want to go back to this weekend for a minute. Just your thoughts about NASCAR being back in North Wilkesboro Speedway.
A: It was really exciting. You know, being in that atmosphere, the fans really showed up and made it what it was, you know what I mean? It was exhilarating to be in that atmosphere. And hopefully we do it again and again, and it's nice being around home.
Q: Would you want to go back and compete there in the Cup Series?
A: I know I want another shot at it. I went to bed Saturday night after finishing second that heat race feeling really good. Then they dropped the green flag, and we just dropped an anchor. So yeah, I'd like another shot at it for sure.
Q: And then obviously, looking ahead to this weekend the Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race of the year. How do you prepare for a race like that?
A: A lot of hydration. Everything we've been doing outside of the cars leading up to this, you know, physically and now eating right. So, I'm ready for it. I feel good. Six hundred miles is a long time in a race car sitting still for a while, but the biggest thing is that place is so rough. It can get real physical on your neck and your body. You're definitely sore the next day after 600 miles in Charlotte.
Q: Since you earned your first Cup Series victory by taking the checkered flag in the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 does it mean something special each time you get to go back there and compete in the race?
A: For sure. I think one thing about the Coke 600, you know, last year, we had a great shot to win it. I feel like that should have been us sitting in victory lane. I just want that opportunity again to try and you know, rewrite the ending of another Coke 600. It was so close to sticking for us and just ended up about a foot out of turn for making it happen. So, yeah, we'll try again. 600 miles, you got to be there at the end to win it. It's a grueling, grinding race and we’ve just got to put ourselves in good positions throughout the night.
Q: Each driver will have a fallen hero on their windshield. Who will you be honoring? And what can you tell me about the paint scheme?
A: Yeah, you know, we've had Navy SEALs on our cars for a while and Mark Crampton is on our car. It's always great to have the families of fallen soldiers out to the track and this weekend is a little different. Mark took his life back here and trying to bring awareness to everything that goes on with our soldiers and when they come back home, you know, it's a lot. So, to have him on our car this weekend for 600 miles, his record in the field was amazing to look at everything that he was able to accomplish during his time during the military, and his sacrifices just, you know, will not go unthought about this weekend when we go to run 600 miles. It's a special weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, having all the branches of our military out there and to be able to represent a great navy SEAL is special.
Q: And for fans who are coming out for the first time to Charlotte Motor Speedway to check out the Coca-Cola 600 and as you just mentioned everything that this weekend has to offer. What can they expect on Sunday?
A: Well, I mean, I think the big part of it is, you know, you're going to have a patriotic weekend. The race is going to be great. Last year, it was one of the best races of the year, I thought we moved up the track, down the track, passes for the lead, big wrecks. If you want to see some excitement, you better come to the Coke 600 this weekend. You'll feel great about what you're doing in the USA because it's a patriotic weekend.
Q: A new era at RCR for you with a teammate Kyle Busch, what has that relationship been like this year and just the partnership there?
A: Yeah, you know, Kyle is an aggressive driver, and he also is aggressive to the point of making our cars fast. He wants the best for our car. He's constantly pushing to get the best out of the race cars. I talked to him this morning about my SIM session. He's back and forth with me and we're working really good together. He's been great. We just try and put our car out front as much as possible. I think we know we've got to work together more than ever right now because the competition is stout.