WHEN YOU GUYS WERE LOOKING AT THE DIFFERENT OPTIONS WHY THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: “Well, I think our crew at RCR, Jeremy (Burleson) and Ben (Schlosser) and Ashley (McCluney) and so many of them up there came to me and put together a program and first I’ve got to thank the NASCAR Hall of Fame here in Charlotte for letting us display throughout the year different points of history going back to when I started racing to Austin’s wins to Dale’s wins, we might even slip the ’98 Daytona 500 car in here for the fans that haven’t been able to go to RCR and be able to take a look at it and see it. So, we’ve got a lot planned for this year, it’s going to be exciting. I’m just so… think back about what all has happened in NASCAR over the 50 years starting in ’69 Talladega. It will be their 50th anniversary also and that is where it kind of started for RCR. I ran the race that day, the Grand American and then we ran the Cup race the next day, it wasn’t Cup back then it was Grand National and it kind of put RCR it gave us enough money to go back and build a shop and do some things. It gave us the break, so a lot has happened at Talladega. We have won races, we won a lot there and so I couldn’t be prouder to go along with Talladega and to be here at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to put all of it on display.”
WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THIS 50TH ANNIVERSARY AND BEING SUCH AN INTEGRAL PART OF IT?
AUSTIN DILLON: “It’s very special. Growing up at the race track like you are talking about, to be in the driver’s seat this year for RCR’s 50th and growing up across the railroad track there at the race shop in Welcome, North Carolina I always talk about crossing the railroad tracks and our family that is our family right there with all of our teammates. You look at those videos and there is a lot of pride in that and a lot of pride throughout history at RCR. To represent them this year, to go back and defend our Daytona title with a gold car is special. There is a lot of pressure on me right now already to go out there and perform for me and (Daniel) Hemric because 50th year you want to go out there and do RC (Richard Childress) proud.”
TALK ABOUT THE FIRST VEHICLE YOU HAD IN THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME:
AUSTIN DILLON: “That Eldora truck. That was a good one. It was a really cool win because I got to take a picture with Richard Petty because he was the last person to win on dirt in-between that period of time that NASCAR had no dirt racing. So, when that came back it was one of my favorite pictures to take a picture with The King there holding the shovel up in Eldora.”
DID YOU EVER THINK ONE OF YOUR CARS MIGHT BE IN THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME?
DANIEL HEMRIC: “I didn’t dare let myself think about that. I was just trying to figure out how to get to the next race track in whatever vehicle that was going to be in. Looking back at it now and thinking I get to strap in my first full-time season in the Cup Series … let me back up here…thinking about the pinnacle of our sport and as a kid growing up from Kannapolis there were two things: Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress Racing. So, to think that I now get to be a part myself of 50 years of all the history combined and get to be teammates with my buddy Austin and have a boss like RC here its unbelievable to know what is ahead for us on the horizon. And it’s cool to have an event like this to be able to kick it off.”
TAKE US THROUGH HOW YOU LANDED ON THESE PAINT SCHEMES:
RICHARD CHILDRESS: “Well, again, I’ve got to give the credit back to our marketing department and all the men and women there. When they asked me about the color, Austin is going to be running the same gold No. 3 that Dale (Earnhardt) ran for the very first Bass Pro Shops car in Charlotte in the All-Star race. I really liked that gold and I thought, that would be cool to have the gold car. And they told me gold, they said which gold do you want? Well, there is 1000 golds, so I picked the one that we had on Dale’s car back then. His (Austin’s) Clash car will look just like Dale’s car and this car looks like it too with the black, so that is kind of the pattern that we all decided to go with.”
TALK ABOUT THE FIRST TIME YOU SAW THIS CAR AT THE SHOP:
AUSTIN DILLON: “First of all they are going to stick out and they look good. I think the spotters will enjoy it other than the fact that they have two cars that look very similar out on the track. So, the biggest thing that race I remember being in Charlotte for those races and seeing that gold car on the track was like ‘wow’ it just stood out among everything. Because I was used to seeing a black No. 3 and then that gold popped it was very special. I think it’s great with the 50th logo being gold and starting off at Daytona I think it all ties together really well.”
MOST DRIVER’S THRIVE ON PRESSURE IS THERE ADDITIONAL PRESSURE THAT YOU LOOK TO BE POSITIVE GOING BACK TO DAYTONA WITH THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY AND BEING THE DEFENDING WINNER?
AUSTIN DILLON: “RCR obviously has a family atmosphere to it, but the history of winning is also key. They’ve got seven championships and in the 50th year we want to bring more to that. I think everybody at RCR is pumped up this year with the addition of Daniel (Hemric), we’ve got two young guys that are going to have fire out on the track each and every weekend. That is what I’m pumped about just adding to the history when you see that reel right there that we just showed you just want to put your face on more of those and bring more trophies to that 50th year so it’s a memorable one.”
FEBRUARY IS GOING TO BRING A LOT OF MILESTONES FOR YOU AND BRINGING BACK THE NO. 8. WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2019?
DANIEL HEMRIC: “All that stuff is incredibly special to the history and makes my opportunity of what I have in front of me at Daytona that much more special, but kind of going off what Austin said, to look back at the video we just watched and to see the pride in the employees eyes and how that catapulted RCR to what it is today, 50 years later, for me that is what I’m most looking forward to is the opportunity to add to that legacy and to do it in a number that many unbelievable drivers that came before me. To be able to have that number… but somewhere along the way to make it my own as well. I want to make sure the folks at RCR understand not only where I’ve come from, but I want the fans to understand where I’ve come from and why that number means what it means to myself and the entire sport. When it’s all said and done, I want to make sure we add to that legacy.”
HAS REALITY SET IN YET THAT YOU WILL BE IN THE CUP SERIES NEXT YEAR?
DANIEL HEMRIC: “Not yet, this is all about just enjoying the moment I feel like. You don’t know how you are going to feel. Nobody can tell you that what that feeling is when you get that phone call and you sign that first contract of being in the Cup Series. I think it will all kind of set in once we get to Daytona, but until then all we are doing is preparing and making sure we are ready. I know all those things through life, those late nights building cars in random race shops throughout the country is what has really prepared me for this moment and I think RC has taken a heck of a leap of faith, all their partners, especially Bass Pro and Caterpillar they have taken that same leap of faith to jump on board and support this program. I’m forever in debt to all these guys up here and look forward to doing it justice.”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE DAYTONA 500 THAT CREATES THOSE EPIC FINISHES?
AUSTIN DILLON: “Well, Daniel was talking about things setting in, I promise when he gets to Daytona and he walks across the stage at Daytona it will set in really quick. There is nothing like Daytona. It’s a magical place. You talk about historical finishes and it just creates magic. I don’t know how to explain it any better. Every time I’ve been there something crazy happens. I’ve torn down the fence there and I’ve won and went to Victory Lane a couple of years later. So, you can do a little bit of everything there good or bad, but everybody wants to be there because something is going to happen. That is what is special about Daytona and we kick off our year with that and kind of ride that wave of momentum throughout. I cherish every moment I get in a car to race at Daytona, especially at the 500 because it only happens once a year and it’s the biggest trophy of the year.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS, EXPECTATIONS, DESIRES FOR 2019?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: “Like always, we set our goal to go out and win races and go out to make the Playoffs. We want to see these two cars in the Playoffs that is our main goal, you’ve got to be in the Playoffs to win the championship, so we want to get these two cars in the Playoffs. It’s a lot of unknowns getting into this year. If you look at these cars the rear spoiler on them how tall the rear spoiler is and we don’t have the brake ducts covering them yet for the scoops out there that they are going to put in them. The engine package has been changed for 2019, so there are a lot of unknowns, but the one known is that you want to go out and win, you want to go out and race to be in the Playoffs, to have a shot at the championship. We’ve been fortunate to be in it the last several years to have a shot and we are excited about it.
“About the No. 8, I’ve had a lot of people ask how did you come up with the design on the No. 8. That number is so famous in so many sports, football, baseball, if you look at the jersey’s that’s the style of 8 that is on a lot of other sports. I was watching TV one day and seen even in horse racing and when NASCAR put it up for the Round of 8, I said that is the 8 we’ve got to have it’s so famous in so many sports we’ve got to have it on the car. So that is how, I get that question a lot since we put it out there.”
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE NO. 8 IN THOSE OTHER SPORTS?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: “Yeah, it was so many famous guys that used it and gals in softball. I’ve seen it a lot of places, so I just figured NASCAR needed that style of 8 also.”
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2019?
DANIEL HEMRIC: “I think making the Playoffs would be a homerun. It would give us an opportunity to put two cars in the championship race that is what we have to do. That is what we expect of ourselves. For me coming into the Cup Series at this time is the opportunity. RC was talking about different packages of rules and so many different things and because of that it’s kind of like everybody is starting over. We’ve all been thrown in situations where we are driving different race cars on different weeks and that is no different than this so everybody is going to have to figure it out, but do it on the same learning curve. Because of that the opportunity to run for the Rookie of the Year, the opportunity to go out and have strong runs and kick the season off on a high note with myself and Luke Lambert working together for the first time there are a lot of things to be done, but there are also a lot of expectation that I hold for myself and hopefully those goals and what not change as we meet them throughout the course of the year and hopefully we can do that.”
AUSTIN DILLON: “I’m very excited. I’m linking back up with a guy that I had a lot of confidence in in Danny Stockman. We won two championships together and we are only missing the third one. Our goal is to go out there and to do what we can to get to Homestead for a chance to win a championship. Win races is a big part of that, so hopefully that comes with it. We just stay focused all year and I think this package really can create a lot of opportunity for us. Everybody at RCR is pumped about that, so looking forward to that and everything NASCAR has put into this year. We have some lofty goals. We want to go out there and try to win a third one.”
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 DOW CAMARO ZL1:
ARE YOU READY TO GET STARTED?
“Man, I’m pumped. I’m really pumped because I got my guy (Danny) Stockman back. We had a lot of success in the Truck Series and Xfinity Series and it’s just been a long time coming. I wanted to get back with him and work with him and now we are. I’m actually headed from here to go to the Chevrolet Simulator and get in there and work a little bit.”
WHAT THAT KIND OF A ‘NO BRAINER’ DECISION FOR YOU?
“Well, you know I had so much success with Justin (Alexander) so fast. He has my two Cup Series wins and I’m very thankful for that. It wasn’t an easy decision by no means, but when I got the opportunity, I had never been given the opportunity to have Danny back and the first time that opportunity came I had to jump on it. It was just too much happened in a short period of time with us two, too much success and I’ve just missed him the whole time. It feels good to have that chemistry going to be back on the box. And I think it was good to have a separation period where you learn more from other guys. He has had to work with other drivers, I’ve had to work with other crew chiefs, so hopefully we can bring that knowledge that we have gained away from each other tie it together and still have that communication level that we had when we were winning races and championships.”
IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR YOU HAVE A PAIR OF REALLY BIG WINS, BUT YOU HAVE BEEN MISSING CONSISTENCY. WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET THAT? CAN YOU GET THERE THIS SEASON?
“I hope so. I think at RCR we have given ourselves chances to win some big races. We put out some cars each and every year, but like you said, that consistency is a big part of where you don’t see us in the top-five consistently and that is where we’ve got to get to and give our cars more opportunities to run up front. So, that is a big point of emphasis that we are trying to figure out and to find. I think Danny with the right group of guys we can do that in our Camaros this year.”
A LOT OF THE EMPLOYEES AT THE SHOP SAY YOUR DAYTONA 500 WIN WAS THEIR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT OF BEING AT RCR. WHAT MADE THAT WIN SO SPECIAL?
“I think just bringing it back in full circle the history. 20 years in-between the ’98 500 and there are a lot of guys at the shop that were there for that one and they had to go through so much in that 20-year period. A lot of change, a lot of different things happened and to come back and get that victory just to show RCR is still here in a good spot I think that is why it means so much to them. I gave them all rings everybody that was an employee at the shop that year, so I hope it meant something to them.”
WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT FROM BEING AT RCR?
“There is a lot over that time period. Obviously, the (Daytona) 500 means a ton, the first win at the Coke 600, there are a lot of memories that I have. I think some of my favorite memories though would be my championships. You look back and some of the most fun times in my life were winning those championships with that group of guys and that is why I’m so excited about this year is getting the guy back that I was able to accomplish those championships with.”
RCR AND RICHARD HAVE DONE PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING YOU CAN DO IN THIS SPORT. THE ONE THING THE ORGANIZATION HAS NOT DONE IN AWHILE IS WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP. IS THAT AN UNSPOKEN GOAL?
“For me it’s everything. I can be the first guy to win all three. That is the carrot that drives me every day. That is my biggest goal is to get to Homestead with a chance to win and be in that final four. If you can do that, man, you never know what can happen. We just want to have a consistent season like you are talking about, be more consistent and in the top five. It’s there, I feel like I’m very confident that I can be a top 10 competitor each and every week when we put the right product out on the track. That is the carrot for me is to get that final championship in the Cup Series. It’s going to be there. I’ve won some huge races, but running more consistently is what I want to be able to do and put ourselves in a position to have a chance to bring home another championship for RCR.”
DANIEL HEMRIC, NO. 8 CATERPILLAR CAMARO ZL1:
HOW DO YOU THINK THIS IS A DIFFERENT YEAR FOR RCR?
“It’s a complete rejuvenation for the entire organization from what I can tell. I’ve been in the shop a good bit preparing for the obstacles that are going to be ahead that we are all going to have to face. To see the morale, it’s unbelievable. Not that the No. 31 was ever anything to look down on at RCR, but it’s change and people embrace change. I feel like I’m trying to do the same thing and I know the folks at RCR are doing that. When you have something like that it’s all good. Everybody at the shop is pumped up. They are good to get new number decals for their pit boxes, the little things that go into a big transition from a number switch is something and driver change, myself coming in, it’s cool to see how everybody’s spirits are. There is nothing you can do better than just build off that and that is what we are doing.”
THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME SEEING THE CAR?
“Yeah, today was the first time seeing it. I actually went to RCR yesterday and posted that I was going to get to see the car for the first time. I got there and it was already gone. So, walking about here on stage, being able to see the gold car and to be able to reflect and kind of praise RCR on their 50th anniversary and to know Austin and I get to be teammates in two identical cars, which the spotters are going to completely hate when we get to Daytona. But the cars look incredible and it’s cool to be able to have a partnership with the Hall of Fame and be able to do something like this.”
WERE YOU IN HAWAII? GET TO RECHARGE AND COME BACK?
“I did. Growing up all I ever did was race and our vacation were different race tracks. As time has went and my wife and I have been fortunate to get some downtime later November, early December we try to go somewhere to do just that, recharge to kind of embrace the situation that we are in and enjoy it. Every time I get anywhere wherever it is we are going you get four or five days in and knowing we were on the heels of the announcement, knowing all the cool things we had coming up, I was like ‘man, I’m ready to get back into Charlotte.’ At least this time we were somewhere it was 80 degrees and there was a foot of snow here, so I wasn’t missing it that much, but it’s good to be back.”
DOES THE JOURNEY TO GET HERE SEEM A LITTLE SURREAL AT TIMES?
“For me the journey honestly, it’s kind of like a blur in the mix of how fast, but not fast it’s all happened. But then, I can let myself think about those nights of rebuilding cars from the time the Legend’s Million happened how that catapulted my career to late models, to tour type modifieds and so on and so forth. I look back at those particular moments that is what makes it slow down. That is what puts it in perspective for me to be here and know that the work was put in and because of that you can still be rewarded for that. I think I’m prouder of that than anything else of how I’ve been fortunate to get into this situation that I am. I could have never done it without guys just taking a leap of faith. That goes all the way back to the legend car days. I was 12 or 13 years old with no ride and no family support and if you want to race you’ve got to figure it out. I stand here today saying it’s worked out to this point.”
FROM YOUR DISCUSSIONS WITH RICHARD WHAT IS IT HE SAID THAT YOU THINK TOLD HIM THAT YOU WERE THE RIGHT PERSON TO MAKE A BET ON IN THIS INSTANCE?
“I go right to the thing that a lot of people can get caught up in and that is the win column of things. I know Richard knows that I was able to win at just about every level of anything I’ve ever been in until getting to the Truck Series, but I feel like he knows the kind of stuff I’ve drove and where it was at relative to the competition and when I was racing different vehicles. I think he knows that I’ve been able to make more out of what I had in most of those situations. Because of that, I think it gave him the confidence to put me in the Cup car to let me build, to let me try to take this and even build it further into the future with RCR. And there is also that comradery that Austin and I have shared for such a long time. I go way back with Austin and Ty growing up racing at local tracks. I think I was at Austin and Ty’s first race ever. Went from there to family vacations with them. This has been a long-time thing coming and I think being able to make sure I got more out of than what was there to be had throughout those times where we weren’t winning races I think that is what has allowed me and RC to have that conversation for him to be confident that if he put me in this we could be able to build this to something that would be successful.”
YOU HAD A LITTLE TASTE OF CUP LAST SEASON, PARTICULARLY AT THE ROVAL HAD ONE OF THE FASTEST CARS ALL WEEKEND. WHAT DID THAT LITTLE TASTE DO TO REINFORCE YOUR BELIEF THAT THIS WOULD BE A GOOD MOVE?
“I think just the process of how far we came from my first one to my second one. I think not only myself and really honing in on what it was to be able to go fast and stay fast in a Cup car throughout an entire weekend was a big learning curve from Richmond to even to the ROVAL. As we got to the ROVAL to see how RCR the preparation changed from that first race to my second race how I changed my approach and how the success came after that. We didn’t get the finish at the ROVAL, but it prepared me and showed me that if you are putting in the work and you are putting in the time and the guys are doing the same thing back at RCR, which they did, then we can have success. To know we are on the heels of that as well as all the changes that are coming into our sport, that is the stuff that made me feel confident that if there was ever a time to make that step that it was now and it was with RCR.”
TALK ABOUT THE ADDITION OF TYLER REDDICK TO RCR:
“It is a reunion. I actually ran into Tyler yesterday at the shop. To have him back he is a huge asset. He is a guy who gets every bit out of his race car and I learned that being teammates with him at Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR). Sometimes it got him in trouble and I was kind of the ‘steady eddie’ with consistent finishes, but the days when he was on, he could do just like he did at Homestead and go put it to everybody. He has the knack and the ability to reach out and get everything that is out of the race car. We will be able to use that on the Xfinity side and hopefully somewhere along the way he can help us on the Cup side of things. Tyler is still so young and still has so far to go, but what he has done to this point is incredible. I look forward to being able to work with him again and obviously everybody at RCR getting to know Tyler a little better as time goes. He is a good kid and he is a racer and he just wants to be the best he can be at it.”
TYLER REDDICK SAID MOVING TO RCR HAVING A CUP OPPORTUNITY WAS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT ENTICED HIM TO MAKE THAT MOVE. WHAT DO YOU FEEL ABOUT READINESS?
“I think Tyler has always held true to himself about where he is at. Obviously, the guy is a Xfinity Series champion now and rose to the occasion throughout the Playoffs and because of that emotionally and the things he went through during his Playoff run, I think prepares him way more advanced than what he would have been three or four months ago. I think he would sit here and tell you he’s not ready to go full-time Cup racing, and I don’t know if anybody really knows if they are or not until they get kind of immersed in it. I know I’m happy to get that shot for myself, but I think if the call comes Tyler can rise to the occasion and get the job done.”
IS THE NEW RULES PACKAGE GOOD FOR YOU, BAD FOR YOU OR HARD TO TELL RIGHT NOW?
“I think it’s good for me and I think it’s good for our company. The way things are transitioning in our sport if you get behind for a little bit I don’t know if you can ever fully catch up. It’s kind of a snowball that you can’t stop going down the hill. This kind of stops that snowball and allows everybody to kind of re-baseline on an even playing field. If you could ever pick your time to jump into the Cup Series I feel like, for me, it’s a great thing to be doing it at this time. Not only with having Xfinity races for practice under my belt, but I got to do the tire test with Luke Lambert and this group with this package. It’s going to be a totally different game. It’s going to be a learning curve for every body and it’s good to know when you are taking on that learning curve everybody throughout the field is doing the same thing. It’s an opportunity for all of us to kind of come out of the gate running and come out strong. I feel like everything we’ve done in coordination with Chevrolet and with our Camaro ZL1’s to do the right things to make them better on top of the package and everybody learning at the same time.”
IT KIND OF GIVES EVERYBODY A LITTLE BIT OF A ROOKIE STRIPE?
“It does. It truly does and I think that is kind of the beauty of it. I know maybe some of the veterans don’t feel quite that way, but I feel like the opportunity is so big and because of that, that generates morale around the shop that they feel like ‘okay’ we have an equal baseline let’s not get behind, let’s be ahead and because of that the work effort is driven to a productive side of things and it makes us drivers excited about what is to come.”