2021 Daytona 500 Preview – Austin Dillon

Austin Dillon, the 2018 Daytona 500 Champion, has 15 previous starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway, acquiring one pole award, two top-five and seven top-10 finishes. The Welcome, North Carolina, driver, who grew up attending races at Daytona International Speedway with his family, has 10 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with one win, seven top-five and seven top-10 finishes. He has two starts at the track in the NASCAR Truck Series.

Former Pole Winner… Dillon earned his career-first NASCAR Cup Series pole award with a lap of 196.019 mph (45.914 seconds) in the 2014 edition of the Daytona 500. It marked the fourth time the No. 3 has won the pole for the Daytona 500, and its 67th Cup Series pole, overall. Dillon also started on the front row for the July 2015 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. Dillon’s starting position for this year’s Daytona 500 will be determined by his finishing position in the Bluegreen Vacations Duels on Thursday (live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 7 p.m. ET).
But First, We Clash… Dillon is one of 21 drivers scheduled to compete in the pre-season event. This will be Dillon’s seventh start in the Busch Clash. He finished second in last year’s exhibition event. Dillon starts 19th in the race via a random draw.
About Tracker Off Road… Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE prominently features TRACKER ATVs, a game-changing new line of all-terrain vehicles and side-by-sides offering breakthrough performance, service and value in the off-road industry. TRACKER OFF ROAD was born out of a powerhouse partnership formed between Bass Pro Shops and TRACKER founder Johnny Morris and Textron Specialized Vehicles, bringing together the undisputed world leader in boating with a global leader in innovation and technology.
About Bass Pro Shops… Bass Pro Shops is North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company. Founded in 1972 when avid young angler Johnny Morris began selling tackle out of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, today the company provides customers with unmatched offerings spanning premier destination retail, outdoor equipment manufacturing, world-class resort destinations and more. In 2017 Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela’s to create a “best-of-the-best” experience with superior products, dynamic locations and outstanding customer service. Bass Pro Shops also operates White River Marine Group, offering an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading boat brands, and Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort. Under the visionary conservation leadership of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops is a national leader in protecting habitat and introducing families to the outdoors and has been named by Forbes as “one of America’s Best Employers.” Bass Pro Shops has a long relationship with NASCAR, dating back to 1998. For more information, visit http://www.basspro.com/.
You’ve had success at Daytona International Speedway. How do you negotiate staying out of the wrecks throughout the race so that you can be in contention at the end?
“It’s tough. It’s a game of putting yourself in position. I call it high-speed chess because you know at some point in time you’re going to be vulnerable. You hope that someone doesn’t take advantage of that too much and cause a big wreck. It’s one of those things where you are constantly moving and trying to guess the flow of the pack. I think the best place to be is in the front most of the time, but it’s impossible now with the way we race to keep yourself up there for the entire race. You see guys do it for long periods of time. Denny Hamlin has been pretty amazing at putting himself in the right position as of late. I’m going to do my best this time around to put ourselves in position for another shot at the Daytona 500.”
Do you feel the “big one” coming, or does it happen so fast that you’re just in it?
“Sometimes you’re in it, and there is nothing you can do about it because you know time is running out and you’re in it either way. It’s an odd feeling knowing your putting yourself out there and something is about to happen. It’s an issue of timing. You’re hoping you just get through it. I’ve been fortunate to sneak through some of them, or be in front of some of them. You usually know when the intensity is rising and the pack is starting to get a little bit out of control. You try to do your best to give yourself an out or be in front of it.”
You were able to get some experience on the Daytona Road Course by competing in the Rolex 24 this year. Did anything jump out at you about the track that you can use for the Busch Clash this year?
“It’s not so much of a technical track like some of the tracks that we go to that are road courses. It’s pretty self-explanatory. I like the fact that the tires seem to wear quite a bit at the track. I haven’t gotten to run the new chicane coming off Turn Four, so I need to make sure I try to stop when I get over there this time around from the Rolex to this race. I enjoyed it and I think the experience I got in the 24 was great. We’ll see how it all plays out in the end.”
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