Even with Richard Childress as his grandfather, Austin Dillon knew he couldn’t just skate through his rookie season in Sprint Cup racing.
But Dillon is hoping skating of a different kind will help him in his quest to win races and eventually Sprint Cup championships, according to a story by Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press.
Dillon worked out Thursday with 2014 Olympic ice dancing gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White at the G-M Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton, Mich.
Now, Dillon has a history of being a good athlete, but that’s primarily been in stick-and-ball sports.
But when it came to skating, Dillon took to it like a Zamboni: he started slow and then picked up speed, according to Brudenell.
“I’m pretty nervous — I’m going to need a helmet and a HANS device on,” Dillon said as he waited to meet Davis and White. “Are you kidding me? There are good people out there. I don’t have training wheels on. I’m going to get run over.”
Dillon, Davis and White got together to promote the Aug. 17 Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.
Davis and White, who both attend the University of Michigan in nearby Ann Arbor, will serve as grand marshals for the event and will also give the command to start engines at the two-mile, high-speed Brooklyn, Mich. racetrack.
“Charlie and I are from the Great Lakes area and are proud to represent Michigan all over the world, and the link for us acting as grand marshals for the Pure Michigan 400 race is great,” Davis said. “Speed is a huge part of what we do (on ice). But, obviously, we’ve never experienced anything like Austin goes through. We are super excited to be going to MIS.”
Added White, “We’re getting a chance to embrace other things after the Olympics. Michigan will be our first real race experience — what a start!”
By the end of the workout, Dillon was – no pun intended – out of gas, but also exhilarated, considering he had never skated on ice until earlier this year.
“That was a blast,” Dillon said. “I’m definitely going to do that again. I had the best teachers you could ever have.”
Given that he knows how to handle a baseball bat – he was on a team that went to the Little League World Series in his younger days – and now that he has skating down-pat, Dillon might want to pick up a hockey stick and start practicing with it.
You know, just in case this whole NASCAR thing doesn’t work out.
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