Austin Dillon on NASCAR Playoffs, anthem protests and driving Dale Earnhardt's No. 3

Austin Dillon is one of NASCAR's top young drivers expected to carry the torch into the next generation of the sport. With champions Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon moving on to the next stage of their career over the past couple years along with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s retirement looming, Dillon should be one of the faces joining the ranks of Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski as superstars in the Cup Series.

The No. 3 driver is currently contending for a NASCAR championship for the second-straight year and had a few things to say about the playoffs among a variety of other topics ranging from national anthem protests to his noticeable haircuts.

Here's what Dillon had to say:

On the NASCAR playoffs and upcoming race at Dover

Q: Pleased to be joined by Austin Dillon right now, NASCAR playoff driver. Austin we got a big race this weekend, playoff spot on the line. You're currently just below the cut line at 13th in the points. What's the gameplan heading into this weekend?

A: "Well, we gotta beat two guys in our minds and that's Stenhouse and Newman. You gotta do it the whole race. Segments and stages are going to be important so we'll be focused on just having a solid race and a solid race will probably pay dividends at the end."

Q: So you won your first career race earlier this season at your home track Charlotte which also happens to be the opener in the Round of 12. Does that give you any extra motivation going into Dover this weekend?

A: "Oh yeah. I'd like to get back to Charlotte and have a chance to move to the next round. It's one of those tracks we love. If we can get there it'd give us an opportunity to make it to the next round. Dover is an important race and Dover is a good place too. I've always enjoyed going there and made the playoffs last year through the Dover round and I'd like to do it again."

Q: Is it tough to go into Dover knowing that you got a guy like Jimmie Johnson who's won 11 times there? Is there anything you can take away from that 48 garage heading into a track like that?

A: "Man I have no clue. If he does it again he really is the man at Dover. He already is but the way the Toyotas in general have been running they're tough to beat. We gotta focus on our program and trying to get the best finish out of our car and see what we can bring back for DOW and Chevrolet."

On how he wants Dale Earnhardt's No. 3 car to be remembered

NASCAR: Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola
NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon (3) during the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway. USA TODAY Sports

Q: You're driving the No. 3 car, a number obviously made by the late Dale Earnhardt who was definitely accustomed to winning himself. At 27 you've made quite the name for yourself already but I'm just curious to know where you see the 3 car 10-20 years from now. What is Austin Dillon's legacy going to be in it?

A: "Hopefully a championship legacy. I'd love to have won a championship in all three series and I feel like we can do that. We've done it in the other two series and I'd love to have a lot of Cup wins behind my name but most of all I'd love to have that third championship."

On who has been a mentor to him so far

Q: Is there a guy, you know Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on the way out this year, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon have moved on over the past few years. Within the past five years or so has there been a veteran driver inside or outside the garage that you've looked to for advice?

A: "Yeah you know earlier on in my career I used Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson quite a bit. At this point Ryan Newman, my teammate, he's very educated on the cars and I always enjoy hearing his side of things when it comes to cars and balance-wise. I've used quite a few of these guys that are around now."

On who his rival is

Q: So it's interesting a guy you're racing against this weekend for a playoff spot is actually one of your mentors. Given that there are mentors there are also rivals. I don't know if you got a chance to play the video game NASCAR Heat 2 yet but one of the features in the career mode is you get assigned a rival. Ironically, YOU SIR are my rival in the game as I tend to drive a bit aggressive. Rivalries make the sport fun to cheer for as a fan but I'm curious to know if you have someone you like to race a little extra hard each week?

A: "I must say I enjoy beating (Ty Dillon) because he's my brother but there are guys out there that a little bit extra is always given for certain guys but you want to beat them all truthfully. When you get out there it doesn't mean nothing for beating one of them, it pays for beating all of them. All of them are your rivals."

On national anthem protests and standing for the flag

NASCAR: AAA 400 Drive For Autism
NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon and his fiance Whitney Ward stand for the national anthem prior to the AAA 400 Drive For Autism at Dover International Speedway. USA TODAY Sports

Q: That's a good answer and I hope you got a good one for this question. Obviously the big news of the week coming off the track with the president tweeting his support of the sport. Guys like Dale Jr., (Brad) Keselowski spoke out in addition to your grandfather (Richard Childress). Curious to know your thoughts on the national anthem protests throughout other leagues and whether or not the garage is affected by attention like this?

A: "I'm really focused on the playoffs right now and just going out there but I always stand for the national anthem because of those that allow me to do what I do every weekend. The military men and women out there that sacrificed their lives to allow me to go race on Sunday's in a country that is free. So I enjoy giving back what little I can to those who have fought for our country and died. I've got a few guys and military buddies that text me and love seeing us stand for the flag. So that's what I do. Past that, I'm here to race and enjoy racing."

On what he wants casual sports fans to know about him

Q: I don't think anyone can argue with an answer like that so at CBS Sports we have our NASCAR nuts but we also have our Fantasy Football players, our NBA fans that may just happen to stumble upon this story. What is the one thing that you'd like a casual sports fan to know about you and why?

A: "One thing I'd like a casual sports fan to know about me… I love sports in general I'm in a basketball league with some of the other drivers and we are very competitive. I'm actually one of the captains and we're getting ready to draft for our fourth season coming up. Honestly talking trash to the other guys in the league about trying to win the hoop group league."

Q: Well I'm talking like as the future of NASCAR right? You got guys like Kyle Busch, Keselowski and now people on the way out like Dale Earnhardt Jr.. Why is Austin Dillon a name that people are going to need to know going forward?

A: "Oh because I'm the coolest. I don't have to say a whole lot. I think I'm the coolest one that's out there and I got some swag and hopefully people like that I'm pretty personable. I feel like if you don't like me you didn't get to know me."

On his many different haircuts

Q: You know what I'll tell you I went out to get my haircut about a week and a half ago and I went to my barber and said gimme the Austin Dillon. Can you talk to me about your haircut man? I feel like every time you're either on camera, raceday or whatever you got something else going on up there. What's the secret?

NASCAR: Tales of the Turtles 400
NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon (3) before the Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. USA TODAY Sports

A: "Oh man I always change the flow up as much as possible. I don't know I just like changing it up. Actually my grandfather made me cut it this week so I'm back to normal bald fade around the side but I liked the tail I had for a little while. That was good times."

On the NFL and Fantasy Football

Q: I love it man and one more question. We're big on football here, Fantasy Football. I saw you tweeting about the Rams-Niners game last week on Thursday night. Do you plan on watching Bears-Packers this week and if so, who do you got?

A: "Um, Bears-Packers I think you gotta go Packers but I do like the Bears run game against the Packers defense right now. Their defense is looking a little soft. (Aaron) Rodgers' offense is not moving like usual so I will stick with the Packers at home at Lambeau. I mean they're pretty tough to beat."

Q: Are you a Fantasy Football player at all?

A: "Oh yeah I'm in seven leagues man."

Q: Excellent well we got the best in the business out here at CBS Sports. Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, we're going to have a pregame show leading up until the Thursday night game. We hope you tune in!

A: "One day you guys will have to have me on your show and strictly talk Fantasy Football. I'd enjoy that."

Q: Listen I would love to have you on any time, any day. We'll connect it up with NASCAR we'll make it happen. Austin really appreciate having you come on here and talking to us today.

A: "No problem! Tune in and watch the race Sunday." 

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