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August 16, 2015

Austin Dillon


THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with our post‑race availability. We are now joined by ourfourth‑place finisher Austin Dillon, driver of the No.3 Dow Chevrolet. This was a career best for you today at Michigan. Talk about the race.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, we had some circumstances where we had to start at the back and had to figure out a way to get our track position back, and just got to thank my guys. Slugger and the engineers did a good job coming up with a plan. That first 20 laps was no fun for us because we had to ride around and try and stay in front of the leader, but we saved gas and decided to not come down on that first competition caution for fuel, and it worked out. It showed that our car was fast enough to stay up there, pitted, drove back up to where we needed to be, and man, it was a fun day for us, the Dow car was fast, and I felt like I passed a lot of cars, also, getting into fourth.
We'll take this and build some more momentum. The last seven weeks have been great for us, and really enjoyed working with Slugger.

Q. You passed the 20 there late, raced him really strong. What did you need to hold it?
AUSTIN DILLON: I don't know, man. He was pretty solid. I got to the lead twice on him. The first run I had a big enough lead where we had clean air and my car was turning pretty good out front. It never seemed to get that back. I kind of got tighter and tighter as the day went on as the rubber laid down. We were really good though that first run. We got the lead and stayed out in front of him. I think we were probably the second‑strongest car and then we just didn't adjustment much. We didn't do many adjustments that we ‑‑ we haven't run up there a lot and it's hard to change a car that's capable of staying up there. So if I did it over again, I'd probably start freeing up a little earlier. You know, his car was really good down the straightaway. I got that one lead, Harvick pushed me ‑‑ that's what I was talking about ‑‑ he got me a good push and I got out front and had a couple runs on him. The draft seemed to work pretty good for us, and I tried to pull under him off of 2, almost had it clear, went into 3, and looking back maybe I should have slid him.
But it would have been hard to keep out in front of him. He had a really strong car.

Q. What's the single thing that's behind your surge these last few weeks?
AUSTIN DILLON: Well, we switched crew chiefs. That was pretty big, and I've just been really focused. Life has been good lately, and just trying to do everything I can on my part to do my job, and everybody on the team has kind of taken up that same mentality, and we feel like we have cars capable of winning. I felt like I've been able to prove that I can compete with these guys in the XFINITY Series and don't know where it was in the Cup Series, why, and we made some good changes and the finishes are starting to happen. From the Trucks and XFINITY it takes a little while once you start having fast cars and running up front, to learn how to race with these guys, and today was really good for me. I feel like I learned a lot. Matt took me to school a few times up front when I was slicing with him, and I'll take that in the notebook and see if I can't learn from it the next time up front.

Q. It appeared to be very hot out there, and we were told it was 150 degrees in the cockpit. How did you feel, and how did you prepare for that heat? And I mean, with Jeff retiring this year, a guy like you coming through could obviously make your presence felt from here on in as one of the new kids on the block, so how do you feel about your chances to dominate like he had in the past?
AUSTIN DILLON: Well, you know, it's still a lot of work. A lot of hard work is going to go into it. Jeff just didn't get here from running up front. He worked hard to get there. I've got a lot of work to put in. This is not just a thing you get in a race car and go fast. You've got to put a lot of effort behind it, and I've learned that the last year and a half. Hard work and effort behind it and focus really helps you.
I'll do my best to do that. I'd love to fill a void there when Jeff leaves. He's a hero for a lot of people.
For me, I just want to do my job and represent my sponsor well with Dow. It was a fun day for us out there today. Yeah, it was a good day.

Q. As far as the heat goes, was it tough?
AUSTIN DILLON: Heat, we've worked really hard‑‑ New Hampshire I got really hot, and Kentucky was really, really bad. From those two races on, my team has done a really good job of insulating the car. I think if people were getting really hot, I think it's the insulation, the guys back at the shop can help them. I don't think we can blame it on the package because I was fine. Only thing that got hot on me was my heels, probably could have just put a little more insulation there and I would have been fine. But body‑wise we've done a lot to cool my car, and what NASCAR did to putting that duct on the right side really helped. I thought a lot of air was flowing. I wasn't too bad.

Q. Did your starting position affect your pit strategy at all?
AUSTIN DILLON: Oh, for sure. We were starting last. We wanted to get track position and we had kind of made a plan from the beginning that would make or break us right there to stay out and we took a big gamble in not taking fuel at 20, just saved as much as we could to try and go a few extra laps, and it worked out. Definitely a good call by Slugger. I thought the 18 was on the same strategy because he was kind of laying back at the beginning, but he ended up trying to pit and take track position, and our strategy worked out for us.

Q. When you leave here today, do you look at the points situation and figure out how far back you are from making the Chase or just focus on the next three races?
AUSTIN DILLON: How far back are we?

Q. I don't know, I haven't seen it.
AUSTIN DILLON: I don't know, either. I think we've got to win. We're showing some speed that's solid for us the last couple weeks to be able to compete if we were in the Chase. That's nice to know. For me, we've‑‑ I just wish we could have started this just a little bit earlier, but we've got a couple good races left for us. Really looking forward to Bristol. We run third there with four to go and ran out of fuel. So if we can go to Bristol and compete, I think we can win there. I'm definitely looking forward to that race.

Q. With one of the strongest cars, how is your approach or mentality on a restart today when you're second or third versus if you would have been in the low downforce package at Kentucky or the original 2015 rules?
AUSTIN DILLON: Like how aggressive was I on those restarts compared to the other packages?

Q. Yes, and also kind of maybe what was your optimism or hope, I guess?
AUSTIN DILLON: I'll tell you what, I was up front for most of our restarts. I had one where I had to start 14th, I think, but I was pretty impressed going through the corner there on restarts not getting too loose or out of control. I thought it was going to be worse today. We really worked on our car in traffic and tightened it up a lot. I think some guys might have tried to trim their car out and might have had a worse day trying to pass. When our car was pretty tight I seemed to be able to make passes and make moves and pass people. It wasn't that awful. I'm glad the heat was out today. I think if it was cooler, it would have been a tougher day to pass because everybody would have been a little better, but I thought it was all right, really. I could draft. Matt's car was pretty solid. I mean, I think his car was really fast. Everyone else I thought we were very competitive with. If we could gain a little bit on Matt, it would have been a heck of a race. Those few laps there I was having a blast sliding back and forth for the lead with him. I wish we could have done that for about 20 more and then this package would have really been good going forward.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Austin.

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