Austin Dillon says the Daytona 500 pole means a lot for multiple reasons
As Austin Dillon sat in the media center after winning the pole, recalling the day to that point. Starting off with a nap, followed by a movie and then a snack.
“I then walked out to the garage, talked to Gil for a minute, put my suit on and walked to my car, had fun with my guys for a little bit, jumped in it and qualified it,” he added.
The lap that Dillon put down was enough to take the pole for the Daytona 500 and put the elusive No. 3 on the pole. For many fans of the sport, it means a lot as the No. 3 hasn’t been used in the Sprint Cup Series since 2001 with Dale Earnhardt.
“Today I just tried to keep my focuses on qualifying the car, obviously, and having my -- you've got to have those blinders because you want to stay focused and run well because that's what it's going to take to -- you want to perform with the No. 3, and everybody wants to see it perform, and that's why my grandfather is always concerned. You want to go out there and run well,” Dillon commented.
While the No. 3 being on the pole is big news for the sport in general as it makes it return, it also marks a solid start to the season for one of the many rookie contenders this year.
“As far as starting the year off with a pole right here, it brings some momentum into our season already to show that RCR cars have speed, and I'm so happy to be working with Gil and all of our guys,” Dillon said. “I sat down at the test at Nashville we had, and it was fun just to sit back and watch them work. They're so experienced and good at what they do. I know I'm the young guy out of the group, the rookie of the group, and I really think I'm going to learn a lot this year from these guys.”
Dillon’s success also marks no surprise as he is working with the same group of guys that led Kevin Harvick to a third place finish in points.
Success is something that Dillon is hoping to have this season – not only for reasons of wanting to be a champion, but for family reasons with his grandfather Richard being in charge.
“I feel like I have something invested in it because it's my family,” he explained. “So I really want them to do well, everybody over there, and I know almost all the employees because I'm there every day, I work out with them, I go mess around, and I've had projects for school built at RCR, crazy stuff like that.”
Dillon’s focus will shift to getting the car strong for race conditions, with the Budweiser Duel on Thursday, followed by the Daytona 500 on Sunday.