The 12 Questions series of interviews continues with Ty Dillon, who is in his second season driving for Germain Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. This interview is recorded as a podcast, but is also transcribed for those who prefer to read.
1. How often do you have dreams about racing?
I don’t now as much as when I was younger. I used to have the worst dream and it stressed me out so bad. The race would be firing off, cars would be rolling off and I was trying to still find my gloves or my helmet. Like, I’d be in the hauler scrambling. And then the race was going and I was missing the race and I just had that recurring dream all the time. That was the worst dream ever, I’d wake up sweating and stressed out.
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
If you make a true mistake and you’re honest with the person, I think it’s worth going and saying something. I think if you’re racing hard, it should be understood.
I tried that a couple years ago with Regan (Smith at Watkins Glen). I told him when he came up to me, “I made a mistake, man. You deserve to be mad.” But he continued to get more and more mad and then it led to what it was (a skirmish on pit road). But I will always be honest if I make a mistake. I always tell the person and we’ll go from there.
So in the Watkins Glen situation, you were like, “Dude, it’s my fault” and he’s still getting mad?
I told him, “Hey, you are 100 percent right to be mad at me,” and he continued to get mad. Then I was like, “OK, now we’re into another realm of getting mad.” So that’s when I flare up.
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
The biggest compliment someone could give me right now would be just a compliment that I’m being a good husband and a father. That means more than anything to me in life. And then probably third on the list would be that people see that I’m working hard and just appreciate the work that I’ve put in to trying to be a good race car driver and all around good for the sport.
4. NASCAR comes to you and says, “Hey, we are bringing a celebrity to the race and we’re wondering if you have time to say hi.” Who is a celebrity you’d be really excited to host?
Migos was really cool. They’d be high on the list. Like sports star-wise, probably Cam Newton. I love the Braves, so any of the Braves players.
But like entertainment, I really like (rapper) Logic right now. I’ve been bumping him quite a bit, so if he were to come to the track, I’d like to show him around and show him our world.
That would be very cool. That would be very big for NASCAR.
For sure. Another one would be (entrepreneur and social media star) Gary Vaynerchuk, I’d like to take him around.
And he’s doing stuff with NASCAR, right?
Yeah, Vayner Media is doing a lot. I actually had worked with him when I went to Austin for South by Southwest with a vlog and spent a lot of time with him. I’m kind of developing myself outside of racing and inside of racing. I think what they’ve got going on is pretty special.
5. In an effort to show they are health-conscious, NASCAR offers the No. 1 pit stall selection for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for a month. Would you do it?
Oh yeah, I could do it. My wife (Haley) is a real good cook, and I’d just be like, “Alright Haley, let’s make this stuff taste good.” We’ll go for it. So I could do it.
I think you’re the first driver all year to say yes. I finally found somebody.
I don’t think the other drivers have qualified as bad as I have all year. (Laughs) So I really understand what the bad pit selection feels like. I’d do it for the whole year. It’d probably make me look better, too.
6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I have picked a random race from your career and you have to guess where you finished. This is the 2015 Spring Xfinity race at Kentucky.
That’s a tough one. I had to be decent…I’ll say eighth.
The answer was P15. So you started second and you must have gotten the lead on the start because you led the first 15 laps. And then I don’t know what happened after that.
I’ve led so many laps at Kentucky. I think we got a speeding penalty or something that might have gotten us a lap down. There’s been a lot of Kentucky races where we started in the top five, led a bunch of laps. The last one might have been the fall race of ’15 or fall race of ’16, where we led the whole race and got beat on the green-white-checkered by Blaney. So I was confused between that one and that one.
Are you good at remembering races?
Somewhat. I can remember the good ones.
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
I think I gave myself away earlier with Logic. I like everything he’s got going on. Migos has some cool content. I just like the way they mix it up. But I’m gonna go with Logic.
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
(Laughs) Do people answer this?
Some people do. I’ve gotten a couple answers.
I will just say, out of pure facts, it’s Kyle Busch because I think he’s had the most punches thrown at his face in our sport.
That is a factual answer.
Him and Brad (Keselowski), they both have had the most punches thrown at their faces.
So you’re going for a data answer here.
Data answer. That way I can back it up.
9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.
I’ll take LeBron as the crew chief just because he’s a good team leader. He’s not as good at (Michael Jordan) though, but he’s the best leader in sports right now. Tom Hanks, I love his voice, so he can be my spotter. And then my wife and Taylor would probably get along well, so she can drive the motorhome.
Do you spend a lot of time with your motorhome driver?
Yeah, we could sit around, we could grill out and she could play the guitar and sing, which would be nice.
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
That’s a major key. Just the closest port-a-john, really. We’re doing something on the vlog about that, like the best way to find your favorite driver is stand near the port-a-john nearest to their car before the race. That’s the easiest way to do it.
I feel like all tracks should have more port-a-johns. Some tracks really throw us a curve, like Martinsville, I had to run all the way to the backstretch to use the bathroom between the national anthem and “Gentlemen, start your engines,” which there isn’t a whole lot of time there to also get in the car and get all your stuff on.
11. NASCAR misses the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and decides a replacement is needed. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car after your next win?
Whatever my medical bill will be to fix my neck when I break it. I’m just not a big acrobatic person.
Daniel Hemric can do backflips. He’ll probably do it when he wins one day. I’ll do something cool, but I can’t do a backflip.
But all they’d have to pay is your medical? You wouldn’t want extra fees on top of that?
I’d be generous because I won the race. Just pay my medical bill.
12. Each week, I ask a question given to me from the last interview. Last week, I interviewed Martin Truex Jr. He wants to know: Did it surprise you just how much harder Cup is than Xfinity?
Yes. When I was a rookie in Trucks and Xfinity, I was racing for championships and winning races right out of the gate my first year. Going to Cup, yeah, our team wasn’t at that level yet, but we had a really good step in the right direction. But to even be better at the Cup Series, it’s not another step — it’s like five steps to be much better.
I would like to mirror my career a lot off of what Martin’s done. To grow Furniture Row from what it was to what it is now, that’s definitely what we want to do at Germain. Yeah, it’s definitely a lot tougher than I expected. I was able to make a lot of starts to get a little bit of a feel for (Cup) to help, and we had our best year statistically that Germain Racing’s had, but it’s definitely a major step that I think a lot of people don’t realize.
The next interview I’m doing is with an IndyCar driver. Do you have a question I can ask a driver in the IndyCar Series?
Why does it seem that NASCAR drivers can come to Indy and IndyCar racing and run well like AJ Allmendinger and Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart in their cars, but when they come to ours, the learning curve seems a lot steeper?
That’s a really good question. I’d like to know that answer myself.
See, I might be the most punchable face in IndyCar after that, so we’ll see.
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Ty Dillon: