Winner’s Weekend: Austin Dillon – 2018 Daytona 500

Video Details

Austin Dillon, car owner and grandfather Richard Childress, and crew chief Justin Alexander recap the strategy that brought them to victory lane in the 2018 Daytona 500.

[MUSIC PLAYING] ANNOUNCER 1: It's NASCAR's opening day. The 60th running of the Daytona 500.

ANNOUNCER 2: This race has always had controversy and always had close finishes.

ANNOUNCER 3: The amount of youth that's out there and inexperienced mixed up with the veterans-- I'm not sure who this is going to play out better for.

- You know, we really felt good about coming into Speed Week, so we knew we were going to have fast race cars.

AUSTIN DILLON: Well, winning Daytona 500, man. That's only reason you come down here, truthfully. That's about it. Just try and win.

- Drivers, start your engines.

[ENGINES REVVING]

- We have the new Camaro ZL1, and we did a lot of work this off-season. And you know, a lot of wind tunnel tests and a lot of [INAUDIBLE]. And everything we did was geared toward Daytona and also intermediate stuff.

DARRELL WALTRIP: Boogity, boogity, boogity. Let's go racing, drivers.

AUSTIN DILLON: We took off in the race and the car was fine. It was a little loose. My plan was just trying to let the race come to us.

JUSTIN ALEXANDER: You know, that first stage we kind of rode in the back. Really didn't want to get to the front, because we knew that there was going to be a lot of drama up front.

DARRELL WALTRIP: He saved it!

ANNOUNCER 1: What a save. No, no, no, no.

ANNOUNCER 2: Erik Jones is not going to be able to save.

ANNOUNCER 3: Jones did not.

ANNOUNCER 2: The caution flag is flying for the third time-- so is the green checkered flag. Kurt Busch will pick up the stage win.

AUSTIN DILLON: I didn't really understand all the side drafting and blocking because we weren't up front being able to do it, either. We never had track position, so I figured the only thing that we could do is play the chess match and let it come to us.

- We knew it was going to be a little carnage out there.

DARRELL WALTRIP: Contact.

ANNOUNCER 1: Oh, no.

DARRELL WALTRIP: Elliott slam into the wall.

ANNOUNCER 2: Are you kidding me?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: He and I have talked about-- you know, I said, man, you need to stay on the bottom when they wreck. It's going to give you a little better chance.

AUSTIN DILLON: Hate to say this, but when they're all wrecking like that and you're making it through it, you're feeling pretty good about your opportunities. Your odds just keep going up. I know that the only lap that pays is the last lap, so putting yourself in situation to win a Daytona 500-- you just got to be there.

ANNOUNCER 3: Gosh, they get all crazy when it comes to the end of one of these stages.

ANNOUNCER 1: And it will be Ryan Blaney-- the winner of stage two for Team Penske.

- RC-- Rich Childress-- he always preaches to Austin about, you know, to be on the low side, to always have a lane, to always have an exit in case there's a wreck and you know, we just happened to be on the low side when there was a big crash there with about five to go.

DARRELL WALTRIP: Oh, Kurt Busch.

ANNOUNCER 2: Oh, got a smash.

DARRELL WALTRIP: Around off the bumper of Blaney.

AUSTIN DILLON: Just made the move to go to the bottom, and we're drafting pretty good there, and I see the 41 get turned, and I'm like, oh, man. Just stay up. I just want him to stay up, because I know he usually comes down and I made a-- I kind of whipped the wheel to make sure he didn't clip me, and we cut right through there and the next thing you see, he's only three cars in front of you. And you're like, oh. Here's an opportunity.

RICHARD CHILDRESS: I didn't really get that nervous, 'cause I was looking and I see he's fourth. You know, we'll have a shot at this, and especially with Bubba-- the 43 right behind him.

ANNOUNCER 3: The aggression is about to step up a whole other notch.

DARRELL WALTRIP: Green flag.

AUSTIN DILLON: We took off, went through the gears. Pretty good restart. The 43 is right on my bumper, which is good. I know that's solid.

DARRELL WALTRIP: We don't know how good some of these guys are, because we haven't seen them up front all day.

ANNOUNCER 2: And Aric Almirola is a lap away from the checkered flag.

ANNOUNCER 3: Now he's just got to keep those two side-by-side behind him.

JUSTIN ALEXANDER: We told Austin just to stay in line, let the guys behind you push you. You know, side draft if you need to. Do whatever you have to do to kind of stay right there.

AUSTIN DILLON: The 43 had a run to my back bumper, and I said, OK. Here it is. This is it.

DARRELL WALTRIP: Almirola up to cover. Dillon-- where will he go.

ANNOUNCER 3: Dillon's gonna get there.

ANNOUNCER 1: Oh, into Almirola.

DARRELL WALTRIP: Dillon turns him. Aric Almirola into the wall in turn number three.

AUSTIN DILLON: It's just a part of it. When you catch him with that much momentum and stuff's going that fast, you're trying to win the Daytona 500 and it's a part of the racing.

RICHARD CHILDRESS: Everybody was doing everything they need to do to win. Austin had such a big run coming. He couldn't back off. If he did, the 43 was going to wreck him, so he just drove off in there like he was supposed to do to win the Daytona 500.

DARRELL WALTRIP: Earnhardt-- 20 years ago, he won the Daytona 500, and here it comes-- the number three. Austin Dillon wins the great American race.

RICHARD CHILDRESS: We were at dinner last night. I said, Austin, when you win the race tomorrow, you got to go out there and do the donuts in the grass like Bill did, and it was so cool to see that. Unbelievable.

AUSTIN DILLON: Earlier in the week, I had a fan come through and he was wearing a Ford hat, and I was like, man, I ain't gonna sign that Ford hat, but you know what I will do? I'll sign my hat that I've got on.

The next day I'm walking to the garage and he yells, and he's got my hat on. Calls me over and he hands me a penny. And I was like, "This heads up?" And he's like, "Yeah." Like, "OK, this is cool. Put it in the car." So they glued it in there on the dash and put it on the winning car.

JUSTIN ALEXANDER: The Daytona 500 is something that you don't ever expect to win. You know, maybe tomorrow it'll hit me, but right now I'm still-- still kind of-- it's kind of surreal.

- We just won the Daytona 500, buddy.

- Yeah. That's cool.

AUSTIN DILLON: I was looking at the trophy up there and you could see so many names that have won this race, and [SIGHING] I'm just proud to give my grandfather something back after he has given me my entire career.