Driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet on second season: 'We need to be in the Chase' Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Around this time last year, Austin Dillon 's blood pressure was rising. The then-defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion was a few short weeks away from beginning his rookie season in the Sprint Cup Series -- the big leagues -- but even more cold-sweat-inducing was the car number that would be adorned on the side of his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet: NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt's legendary No. 3. With his second season upon him and his rookie stripe removed, Dillon exuded an aura of confidence, put-togetherness and relaxation on Thursday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom -- at least for now. "There's a lot of pressure any time you move to a new series," said Dillon , who immediately backed off the naysayers by winning the Coors Light Pole Award ahead of the 2014 Daytona 500 . "Having the 3, there's so many fans behind it and it was a great year to go through. Nothing crazy happened. This year, I think we've got to start getting crazy. We've got to start making things happen. "When I say that, we need to be in the Chase; we need to be part of the chaos at the end of the year. I want to put more pressure on (myself) and you can more focus on the competition side of things. … People know how we approached that first year; I think we did it right. Now it's time to make fire and go fast." A big part of how Dillon and returning crew chief Gil Martin are trying to improve is in preparation, not only physically -- which he's determined to stay on top of -- but also mentally. "Mentally, it's having more days at the shop. … Knowing what we're going to do when we go through practices so we can be more organized with practices," Dillon said. "We were able to really scramble at certain points through the year and make our cars good when we struggled in practice. I think preparation this year, we want to be ready for those changes. We don't want to be behind where we have to make a long shot or a Hail Mary at something. ... I think that's one thing that I've really told Gil and my guys. I want them to stay on me to stay focused and push me." Dillon mentioned that a number of sponsorship appearances and NASCAR events having to do with the famous car number pulled him away from the health-conscious steps he took last offseason to get ready for his rookie year. He and his team have taken this into consideration, working diligently to keep Dillon and the No. 3 team on a more even-keeled schedule throughout November. It should allow Dillon to maintain his consistency -- his average finish of 17.5 ranked 15th in the series among full-time drivers, ahead of Chase drivers Kyle Busch , Kasey Kahne , Kurt Busch , AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola -- the same consistency that projected Ryan Newman to the Championship 4, 50 yards shy of a title. That consistency also came in the form of completing 10,488 of 10,541 laps (99.5 percent), the second-most in the series. The 24-year-old is also scheduled to run 20 XFINITY Series races in 2015, which he believes will help him figure out the ins-and-outs of his Cup ride. The new technical packages for Sprint Cup cars in 2015 is much more closely aligned with NASCAR's second series than in years past. There's a lot for Dillon to build on for 2015 and a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth is not out of the question. With the initial attention around the No. 3 car's return now mostly a thing of the past, it should allow the RCR driver to stay steady throughout the year and keep his head down. "The good thing is, we had a decent year last year, but when you can find places to improve, and you know where those are, you should be able to take those and make them better," Dillon said. "I think that's what I've been able to do the last couple of years when we go from say, rookie year in Trucks or ( XFINITY ), then second year and you win a championship." "I'm not saying we're going to go out there and win a championship, but that's our goal. I think we can, and what Ryan and Luke (Lambert, No. 31 crew chief) were able to do, I think me and Gil want to accomplish that -- have a shot at the end of the year." MORE: Newman eager to build on last season's gains FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get the latest Austin Dillon news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Get the latest Austin Dillon news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Daytona International Speedway held the first ever DAYTONA Rising Escalator Duel. NASCAR driver, Austin Dillon , and his NASCAR team owner, Richard Childress, raced to the top of the new 150-foot grandstand using stairs and escalators.
Austin Dillon is suffering from what he believes to be a 24-hour virus
RCR No. 3 driver has two points between himself, second-place Regan Smith RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Ty Dillon is aware of his points situation, but the numbers aren't the focus for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, nor his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team. "We're looking at them, but we're looking at trophies first," Dillon , 22, said Oct. 4, moments after finishing fifth in the Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway . "We've got to get wins." Dillon , younger brother of Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon and grandson of team owner Richard Childress, sits third in the series' standings, trailing JR Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Regan Smith . The Kansas finish allowed Dillon to close the gap on the two somewhat -- he now trails Elliott by 40 and Smith by only two points. The series travels to Charlotte Motor Speedway next, site of Friday night's Drive For the Cure 300. It's one of three Nationwide Series races in the final four events of the season that will be contested on 1.5-mile tracks, with stops at Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami also remaining. The only non 1.5-mile venue is Phoenix International Raceway. "We've been really strong on these mile-and-a-halves the second half of the year," Dillon said. "Ever since Paul (Menard) kind of kicked it off with a win at Michigan." Menard competes full-time for RCR in the Sprint Cup Series; Michigan is a 2-mile track, but it's the intermediate-track program that Dillon has in mind. Short tracks haven't been the team's bread and butter; the bigger circuits fall more into its wheelhouse. Dillon scored his first Nationwide Series win earlier this year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway , a week after finishing fifth at Chicago. He was ninth at Atlanta, seventh on a return trip to Chicago and third a week later in Kentucky, all -- except for Indy -- 1.5-mile stops. In 2012 and 2013, he competed in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series , scoring three wins and finishing fourth and second in the points standings. He and crew chief Danny Stockman Jr. know what is required to run competitively, and what it takes to win. His team hasn't gotten "complacent" since moving up to the Nationwide Series, he said. "I think in the past we would come to the track, win a race and maybe get complacent with our cars," Dillon said. "The guys have just kept their heads down and kept digging and digging. We're getting faster and faster each week. "We've got some work to do on the short tracks, for sure, but we've got some mile and a halves left to go and we've got a lot of confidence going into (them)." All three of Dillon's poles this season have come on 1.5-mile tracks -- he scored his first at Las Vegas in the series' third race of the season, added another at Kentucky and the most recent last week at Kansas. "Getting the pole ... was a huge boost and running the way we did, having a car that was capable of me making mistakes and still coming back through the field was a nice relief," he said. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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From a wreck in the closing laps in the opening race at Daytona to hoisting the trophy in Homestead-Miami, take an in depth look at Austin Dillon's championship run in the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series.