@AustinDillon3 made the media rounds on Tuesday as his violent wreck at Daytona International Speedway is still the center of discussion.
The 25-year-old driver descriptively broke down the accident for the media on a teleconference, which sent him flying into the catch fence. Not knowing where he was on the track, Dillon immediately tensed up and gripped the steering wheel as hard as he and began to talk himself through the accident.
Since climbing from his No. 3 machine, Dillon has felt fine aside from a sore tailbone and groin. But he’s ready to climb back into his Chevrolet this weekend at Kentucky Speedway and go back to work just the same.
“For me I believe I’m still as strong and confident, and I am. For people at home, I guess I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s just a mentality that I have as a driver,” Dillon described. “I think all the drivers do, that they don’t want to get out of the car. It’s what they love to do and be a part of.
“I love what I do. And if I was shaken, I promise you, I wouldn’t be getting in that car next weekend. I’m a pretty honest person when it comes to things, if I’m hurt or don’t feel good, I’ll pretty much come outright and say I don’t. But I fee fine, so why wouldn’t I (race)?”
Dillon praised the sport for how far its come with their safety improvements and noted that his head and neck are uninjured. He has not even felt a headache. The sophomore Sprint Cup Series driver understands, however, that watching the accident in real time made it look worse, including for his team and family.
As a result of the accident, Dillon was unable to respond on the radio to let them know that he was all right. While Dillon revealed he didn’t feel shaken when arriving at the infield care center, he did need to talk with each of his family members, including an upset Ty Dillon, to reassure them that he was OK.
Upon returning home on Monday afternoon, Dillon spent time at the Richard Childress Racing shop and thanked his interior mechanic for keeping him safe.
“I think that’s probably one of the worst fears for a guy that does interior is the safety of the driver. It’s what his main focus is, and I went and thanked him this morning as soon as I got here for keeping all the bolts tight, doing his job,” Dillon said. “Different guys you can see are shaken up more by it, but they’re proud of their work and glad it was safe and that I’m safe and we get to go race this weekend at Kentucky.”
The Sprint Cup Series has one remaining restrictor plate race on the schedule, Talladega Superspeedway in the fall. If NASCAR moves forward to Talladega with same rules package, Dillon admitted he’ll be ready. But like many others, if there are to be changes, Dillon would like to see work continue in trying to keep racecars from getting off the ground.
The cars are safe, he feels. But no one wants to see one go flying.
And Dillon said he wouldn’t have a change in mentality about restrictor plate racing. He also won’t let the emotion of being involved in one of the worst racing accidents weight on him moving forward, either.
“As a driver you try not to let that emotion creep into your head, because I’m confident as I’ve ever been right now because of the safety. When you take a lick like that — I used to think when I was racing going up through the ranks every now and then you had to take a good hit to get your confidence up in the safety equipment that you had. It never happened very often, but when you did, the next week sometimes you come back more confident, as long as you didn’t have a headache or something.
But for me, I try and put it in the back of my head, forget about it and move on. You have to be able to move on and trust in the safety equipment, like I said. If I can take a lick like that and feel as good as I do right now, I feel like I can do anything. You feel like Superman.”
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