Austin Dillon is one of the most self-confident people you will ever meet and rarely seems rattled by anything.
But going on national TV this week — particularly doing the LIVE with Kelly and Ryan show? That had him shook.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had texted Dillon the night before the show to congratulate him on the Daytona 500 win and urged him to “go represent our sport well this week.”
So Dillon had those comments echoing in his head, along with fighting fatigue (he gets sleepy and goes quiet when he’s nervous) and being in an unfamiliar environment.
“You look in the mirror before you go around the corner (onto the stage) and they are like, ‘We want you live and (having) energy when you walk in there because people are going to be clapping,'” Dillon said of the Kelly and Ryan appearance. “It’s like an awkward stage, because you are smiling at all these (audience members) that you don’t have a clue who they are, but they are excited because that is what they are supposed to be.
“You are running down the aisle smiling, and then you get there. I never got to meet Ryan (Seacrest) or Kelly (Ripa) before the TV, that was the first time I had met them.”
Dillon said he sat down and started talking about his wife, Whitney, to find a topic he was comfortable with. But he noticed his voice start shaking a little bit, and he searched the audience for her face.
He soon spotted her and felt reassured, and then got more relaxed.
“The interview was easy after that,” he said. “I was trying to be authentic and talk about the whole experience. But that was the most nervous (media appearance) for sure.”
Check out how Dillon did in the clip below: