After ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, NASCAR driver Austin Dillon went to dinner at Bobby Van’s and listened to his grandfather, Richard Childress, toast the Coca-Cola 600 winner with a bottle of Dom Pérignon.
Dillon said Childress – his team owner and 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee – even got a little emotional during the congratulatory speech while beaming with pride. It was a moment the 27-year-old driver will probably never forget following his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win.
“He said, ‘Congratulations to the Coke 600 Champion,’ and I thought that was really special,” Dillon told For The Win on Thursday. “It made me feel pretty awesome.”
Dillon said his grandfather’s toast has been the best part of his victory tour so far, but the New York Stock Exchange is up there too.
“Signing in for closing the bell – that wasn’t on my bucket list, but afterward I was like, ‘Man, if I had a list, that would be on it,’” he continued. “It was pretty cool to see all the CEOs and different famous people that have signed that book. And when I signed it, it was more than just my name. I got to put ‘Coke 600 champion’ next to it.”
After starting the from the 22nd position in NASCAR’s longest race, Dillon joked his victory is simply the result of his No. 3 Chevrolet team making a fuel gamble based on math that luckily worked out.
Choosing to stay on the track when others refueled, Dillon said the team had “nothing to lose at that point.” The car could either win or run out of fuel in the middle of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s track.
Aside from his first win, taking the checkered flag was even more emotional for Dillon, who drove the No. 3 car to Victory Lane for the first time since the late Dale Earnhardt’s final victory in 2000.
“To add to the legacy of that number, there’s a lot of history in that number,” Dillon explained. “And the stuff my grandfather has gone through and to add to his history as a Hall of Famer, it feels good.”
But the celebrations are cut short by looking ahead to the next race, the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway on Sunday. But hey, that’s NASCAR.
“Short week for the winner and short week for the loser too, so it’s what’s special about it,” said Dillon, who is also sponsored by AAA this weekend. “You’re only a winner until the race starts and then there’s going to be a new one.”