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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: DAYTONA 500 QUALIFYING


February 16, 2014


Richard Childress

Austin Dillon

Gil Martin


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

KERRY THARP:  Let's hear from our Coors Light pole winner, Austin Dillon.  He drives the No.3 Dow Chevrolet, and what a great sponsor you got, what a great company, Dow is for sure, to have on that No.3 race car.  He's joined by his crew chief Gil Martin and his team owner Richard Childress.  This is the fourth time the No.3 car has sat on the pole, Coors Light pole here at Daytona.  Buddy Baker did it in '69, Ricky Rudd did it in '83, Dale Earnhardt did it in '96, and now Austin Dillon replicates that here in 2014.
Austin, this is a big deal, and I know that it's going to sink in here for you the next few days, but just talk about what it means to sit on the‑‑ to have the Coors Light pole award for the Daytona 500 driving the No.3 car.
AUSTIN DILLON:  Yeah, it's amazing.  I actually want to start and go back a little bit.  You said something about Dow.  They've had a good start.  They actually just got the first Olympic medal for us in the luge, in the women's luge for a bronze, and now they got the pole at the Daytona 500.  It shows that the technology that that group is able to bring, not only as a partner with us, it's a performance partner.  So it's pretty cool to see what they've been able to do.
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.  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.
KERRY THARP:  Gil Martin, just talk about having the pole sitter, the No.3 Dow Chevrolet with RCR.  Just talk about what that means for this race team.
GIL MARTIN:  It means a lot.  Like Austin said, it's a tremendous amount of motivation for us and momentum for us.  I mean, because every day you drive onto our complex, you see Richard's 3 and you see the heritage of that 3 there, so to be able to be a part of this, it's a dream come true for me, and I know it is for everybody in our whole team and our whole organization because I've watched Austin come from being a little guy to where he's at today, and it's been an amazing journey to watch.  And to be a part of it now, I'm looking forward to it.  I think it's going to be a great run.

Q.¬† Your grandfather just mentioned you guys came here and you were fast, and you were fast again when you tested and you were fast again yesterday, and it's sort of building it up and building it up for this potential pole‑winning run.¬† What does that feel like when you get in the car?¬† Do you feel like I can't screw this up, everybody thinks I'm going to win the pole?
AUSTIN DILLON:¬† There's a little bit of that for sure.¬† You try and keep the blinders on when you're hitting those shifts, putting on a good line, and these guys made it easy on me.¬† The car drove well.¬† The funny thing is is like you said there's buildup to it, and I don't know, my grandfather said ‑‑ me and Gil said, calm down, you're nervous, he said, I'm not nervous, I'm concerned.¬† So now I guess now he doesn't have to be concerned, we're on the pole, and things can a little bit calm down until Thursday.
But it's very cool for everybody at RCR and ECR.  Yeah, you've got to keep your blinders on and stay focused, obviously.

Q.  Gil and Richard, when Danny Lawrence was in here, he talked about an energy that Austin brings to the shop and to the company, and I'm wondering if you agree with that assessment and what is it about him that he's added to the organization?
GIL MARTIN:  I think his youth is bringing a lot to us.  I know it is for me.  He's getting me out of the dark ages.  I'm thinking about getting rid of my house phone.  I'm going to start texting pretty soon.
But no, his enthusiasm, and again, being a part of this, to watch this happen through his eyes and the things that he's got to that are lying out there for him, it's going to be a lot fun to watch.  I think everybody in this room is going to enjoy what's going to go on.
RICHARD CHILDRESS:  And for me, the energy that he brings to our whole organization is huge, and just when we started running the 3 truck, it was big.  He built excitement winning the championship, and then coming back and winning a championship in it last year.  It's real special.  It makes me think back to the days.  He's been in the shop so long, him and his brother Ty, I can remember Dale pushing them around on a creeper down there in the garage when they were just little babies, so that's how far they go back.

Q.¬† Richard, you've been through pressure‑filled weeks before, but who's going to feel the pressure the most this week, you or Dillon, and who's going to comfort who?
RICHARD CHILDRESS:  That's a good one.  You know, I don't know.  We know what we've got to do.  We know what tasks are in front of us.  We've got this one behind us.  We've got to go race.  I've been here many, many years, probably since in the '60s, and this one is going to be special because my grandson is in it and he'll be starting from the pole on the 3, but at the end of the day, we all know what we're here to do, and that's to go out and put on a great show for the fans and try to win the race.

Q.  RC, you've had to reinvent this organization several times since you've been at the helm.  This just seems like a whole new chapter for RCR, not only do you have the new drivers you brought in but you have a lot of technical partners, as well.  Is this just the strongest that RCR has been since the beginning?
RICHARD CHILDRESS:  I really feel good about the year.  These guys have been testing.  We've been doing a lot of work with our technical partners, and that just makes us all stronger.  I know we've been at Nashville.  We've had other teams over at Nashville, and pool our resources, and that makes us stronger.  But I feel good about having Ryan Newman back with us, and Eric Warren and Mike Dillon has just done a phenomenal job of putting the right people together to move forward and try to race for that championship with one of these guys, and proud of everything they've done.

Q.  Richard, is this more emotional because it's your grandson, or is it more emotional because it's the 3?
RICHARD CHILDRESS:  I think it's the combination of both.  You know, the 3 is special to all of us.  The family, the Earnhardt family to every one of us, but I think it's special because Austin, our family is in the car.  You know, the emotion will fly if the 3 rolls in there on Sunday.  I won't hold it back, I promise.

Q.¬† Richard, just wanted to ask you a little bit about the concerns you had going out there today.¬† What were they, and was it‑‑
AUSTIN DILLON:  He had a lot of concerns.

Q.  Not with the driver I don't think.
AUSTIN DILLON:  We'd be here all day.
RICHARD CHILDRESS:  That's good.

Q.  Richard, were the concerns, did they gnaw at you when you saw your grandson on the pole and there was still other guys out there waiting to take their shots?
RICHARD CHILDRESS:¬† Yeah, really, I was up there on the wall and back, and we were talking, and I just told them the 78 is going to be‑‑ Jimmie Johnson, you can't take nothing away from those guys, we were sweating it down to the last car when Clint Bowyer took it.¬† But yeah, I have concerns, and I came out this morning and was asking all kinds of questions to all the crew chiefs, not just Gil, because I know how hard they worked and I wanted them to put it together.
GIL MARTIN:  Yeah, it leads up to this:  Can you get fast enough to get on the pole, and once you get there can you hold it.  I said, can we just breathe a minute?

Q.  Obviously people keep mentioning, people in our industry keep mentioning the 3, the 3, the 3.  It's a number that obviously you've had your whole race career.  Is there such a thing as pressure, or is this kind of just roll off because obviously it's hard to deflect away all of the constant attention to the number, and you're the guy in the car.  How do you kind of internalize and deal with all of that stuff and obviously the great interest in the car itself and the number?
AUSTIN DILLON:  Well, it was pretty simple last night and today.  I didn't have too much scheduled before qualifying, so I slept until about 12:30 and watched a movie, ate wrap with a burger in it, and 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.
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.
It's a long season.  There's a lot of ups and downs, and this is one of the top points, obviously starting off like this, so you want to carry that momentum going forward.  But for me, I just have to stay grounded and have fun.

Q.  Austin, you know there's always people that are trying to take stuff away from you or take shots at you.  I'm sure you see it on Twitter, and the latest thing today is of course he got the pole, the 3 is going to be on the pole, NASCAR wanted it to be that way.  When you hear stuff like that, how do you react?  Do you just laugh it off or let it get to you?
AUSTIN DILLON:  You just keep your blinders on, man.  Keep trucking.  It's a part of it.  I think you hear it.  There's always going to be an opposite side to every story, and luckily we can come out on top with this one I feel like, and it's so important that RCR and ECR had the front row.  All of our cars were fast.  That makes it even better.  So yeah, it's part of this whole life, what you're doing in NASCAR, and it's fun.  That's what creates the buildup and anticipation and creates fan base, and that's what NASCAR is about.

Q.  Richard, obviously people see Austin Dillon as Austin Dillon the race car driver.  You see him from a different light.  What's a special or significant moment away from the racetrack that you've spent with him, whether in the big picture thing it really means anything, but it's significant and special to you at some point in your life with him, and Austin, if you can talk about maybe some of your earlier memories of being in the shop when you were young and just kind of hanging out there and things that stand out to you or things that you did there.
RICHARD CHILDRESS:  You know, I've got so many, it would be hard to pick.  We're a special family.  We spend a lot of time together.  We all, our whole family loves the outdoors.  We love racing, we love what we do.  We're a racing family.
But just thinking back, how he's been able, and Ty both, to understand how important our fans are and how important this sport is.  Some people think this sport, NASCAR, owes them something.  They've never thought that they owe the fans and NASCAR, this great sport, something back.  I think that's one of the special things about watching him and just standing back.
They weren't just playing around and listening when Dale Earnhardt and Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer and all the guys, they were learning lessons, and they've wore it well.
AUSTIN DILLON:¬† For me, working‑‑ not working, but coming to the shop so many days of my entire life, you're talking about a different heir to RCR coming in there, and I feel like I have something invested in it because it's my family.¬† 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.

Q.  What kind of projects?
AUSTIN DILLON:  Science projects, anything.
KERRY THARP:  Hey, he took a whole wind tunnel to school one day.
AUSTIN DILLON:¬† Yeah, luckily I had RCR as my back.¬† The first thing I ever did at the shop there when I worked there in the summer is I worked with our yard like facilitator, so I got to mow, and they didn't let me mow because they wouldn't trust me on the mower, so they handed me a weed eater, and there's a hill behind the museum, and it's just this big hill.¬† You can't even see it, and I got told to go weed eat this hill, and it was‑‑ it's all monkey grass, so it's this really thick, yellow grass that's like‑‑ at my age, I was probably only 12 or 13, it was up to my knees, and I weed eated that whole hill that day, and since that day it hasn't been weed eated.¬† So the only time that I weed eated a hill that's not seen on the shop and still hasn't been weed eated, so it's back to monkey grass, and I guess I'll have to work someday back into weed eating again.
But I've been going there for a long time and being a part of it, and I just want to see RCR run well, and I always can keep him honest because everybody tells him every different thing.  He's getting pulled all kinds of different directions, and if I can stay in the shop and help Gil, I try and stay away from the cars because I don't want to do anything with that, but just knowing how things are run and how everybody is doing and working together, I think that's really important like with all of our new technical partners and teammates, we've got to work together to be able to be successful every week.  That's something I felt like in the Nationwide Series and Truck Series I was able to keep those shops really tight together pulling in one direction because everybody has got to run good and help each other to be better, and hopefully we can do that in the Cup shop.

Q.  My question is for Gil:  Gil, you've got a demanding car owner, you've got a rookie driver who's shown some good ability, and then you had a car that the rules were changing on dramatically, and you had two and a half months to work in those three areas.  Which one was the most difficult, and which one made you smile the most in working through?
GIL MARTIN:  We kid around a lot about him and what he does, but he is demanding, and because of the fact that he is, it makes people achieve things that they don't think that they can achieve.  It makes you work longer than you really wanted to work, and it makes you do things that you just didn't think you were capable of.  Even though we kid about that, that's a good thing.
The driver, you can call them a rookie a lot, but he's so far along where he's at now in his career, that he's the most experienced rookie that's probably gotten in one of these cars, so with that, extremely exciting.  The rules are the toughest thing we're having to deal with right now just because they're ever changing and they're unknown.  We've just got to keep going each week and deal with it, but I like it all.

Q.  Austin, I asked you this question just before it was announced that you won the pole, but how do you plan on staying grounded between now and the green flag?
AUSTIN DILLON:¬† Dirt racing.¬† I'll be at the dirt track.¬† I'm actually going to be late right now.¬† I'm trying to talk RC into getting me a helicopter ride over there if I can, but‑‑ please.
RICHARD CHILDRESS:  You need to keep working here a little while.  I'm working on getting you there.
AUSTIN DILLON:  I've got to go win a dirt race tonight.  That's my next concern.
RICHARD CHILDRESS:  Before we even talk about him winning the pole, his brother has won the last two features out there at Volusia, and he's up on Austin, so Austin says I've got to go win tonight.
AUSTIN DILLON:  Exactly.  He's got two on me, and I've got to get in that big race for Monday night.  That's how I stay focused.  Wednesday we're going to sit down with Gil, I'm sure, and now that we do have the pole sitting car, we've got to figure out what's the best way to get through practice, figure out what we need in the draft, figure out how our car handles obviously going into Sundays, and then how to race on Thursday to make sure we can bring that fast car on to Sunday.
KERRY THARP:  Congratulations to the No.3 Dow Chevrolet, Austin Dillon, crew chief Gil Martin and Richard Childress for winning the 2014 Coors Light pole for next Sunday's Daytona 500.  Enjoy it.
RICHARD CHILDRESS:  I'd like to say one quick thing to the press.  I'd like to thank every one of you for all your support bringing this 3 back.  I know we've had a lot of support put out by this press, and I don't think everything would have went as smooth as it had if we hadn't had the great press we got, so thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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