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NASCAR | New Hampshire Motor Speedway

For NASCAR driver Austin Dillon, racing has always been a family affair

Austin Dillon poses with his grandfather and team owner, Richard Childress, after winning the pole position June 29 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Austin Dillon poses with his grandfather and team owner, Richard Childress, after winning the pole position June 29 at Chicagoland Speedway.(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon has no shortage of racing connections in his family.

His younger brother, Ty Dillon, 27, also races in the Cup Series for the Germain Racing team.

His father, Mike Dillon, once raced and now serves as executive vice president for Richard Childress Racing, owned by his grandfather, who is the the team’s namesake chairman and CEO and a NASCAR Hall of Fame member.

His grandmother, Judy Childress, also partakes in the day-to-day operations at RCR.

Dillon, 29, didn’t have to become a driver, though. There was no mandate. Yet he found his way into the family business, anyhow.

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That has translated into a racing career that has included two wins in the Cup Series, one of which came in the No. 3 car fielded by RCR at the 2018 season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Next up for Dillon and the other drivers in the Cup Series — a stop at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he will compete in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday, July 21. His best finish in nine previous starts at the 1.058-mile oval in Loudon, N.H., came in 2015, when he finished eighth.

Despite the racing lineage, Dillon’s family wanted him to try other sports growing up. Those ventures included sports such as basketball and baseball. He even played in the 2002 Little League World Series.

“I am glad they pushed me to do that so I had that experience,” Dillon said.

Then Dillon got a taste of racing as a teenager. As he began to take part in amateur stock car and dirt car racing, his interest turned a corner.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” said Dillon, who ranks 22d in the Cup Series driver standings with 376 points and has recorded a pair of stage victories to go along with three poles, three top-10s, and three DNFs.

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“Any time you get in a racecar, you don’t know what the outcome is going to be,’’ he said. “You’ve got to put yourself in uncomfortable positions quite a bit. Sometimes, you get lucky.”

Things have often worked out well for Dillon in the early stages of his career. He has picked up nine wins in the Xfinity Series and seven wins in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, including a victory from the pole position in his NHMS debut in 2015. He has won a championship in each series, as well.

He doesn’t win all the time, though. Few, if any, drivers do. So, Dillon tries to measure his success by how well he maximizes his car’s potential.

“If it’s not a top-10 car, you turn it into a top 10 car,” Dillon said. “Or maybe it’s a top-20 car and you turn it into a top-15 car. Managing expectations, putting yourself further forward than you probably should have.”

Dillon has maintained that mind-set the past six seasons while competing in the grueling, 36-race Cup Series. Recently, he paired racing full time with hosting a podcast for about a year. He struggled to produce regular episodes because of a hectic road schedule, but enjoyed the experience because it allowed him to show a different side of himself while talking about sports and NASCAR.

Yes, even in his time off, Dillon discussed NASCAR.

It’s the family business, after all.

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Follow Nick on Twitter @_NickKelly.