Having said last year that it would be tough to fill the shoes of Dale Earnhardt Sr., Austin Dillon has tried to carve out his own legacy with consistent finishes and a non-abrasive personality. But today was a throwback day, as he did what the #3 car had done so many times before—wrecking on the final lap and ruining a possible great finish.
“You know, when my Pop-Pop gave me this ride last year, I told him I wanted the 3 on the doors”, Dillon said post-race. “But I was well-aware of everything the 3 car had done—like running out of gas in 1986, and running over debris in 1990.”
|Still the second-best driver of the #3|
Dillon has proven to be a student of the sport’s history, bringing back such traditions as running at the back of the lead lap and wearing stupid cowboy hats on pit road.
“In 1997 I remember watching the 24 knock the 3 end-over-end—hey, that’s how they wound up with the ‘crash car’ diecast!”, Dillon said. “Today we got a little payback I guess, and heck, the following year, the 3 won at Daytona! So look out for us next year, after 35 18th-place finishes this year!”
Not everyone was happy with Dillon’s tap towards history, though.
“I’m not mad at Austin, I’m just disappointed”, a disappointed Jeff Gordon said after finishing 33rd in his final Daytona 500. “The first reporter who found me after this race asked me, point-blank, if I was worried if I would win in my final year. And then some idiot barged-in and asked me if I would be running the Indy 500 next year. Ugh, I can’t wait till this year is over.”
Dillon said that he will not be riding anyone’s coattails going forward.
“Next week is the REAL start to the season, with the regular race package and usual strategies”, said Dillon. “So next week look for me to do what I do best—run a conservative, boring race where nobody talks about me. It’s good to have a guaranteed ride!”
Gordon, meanwhile, denied rumors that he was honoring Ken Schrader’s legacy by winning the pole and wrecking.