With the NASCAR playoffs beginning on Sunday, the 16 drivers in contention for the championship trophy are preparing for the first race at Darlington. NASCAR celebrated by releasing hype videos for each driver, including one featuring an elite NFL running back. Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey did his part to hype up Austin Dillon, the driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
Speaking with PopCulture.com in an exclusive interview, Dillon shined a light on his relationship with McCaffrey. The two men are actually really good friends and have been since the 2017 NFL Draft. This was the year that the Panthers selected McCaffrey out of Stanford. Prior to this move becoming official, however, Dillon reached out and predicted that his new friend would move to North Carolina.
"Yeah, so McCaffrey and I, I've stayed in touch with him for a long time now," Dillon told PopCulture. "When he got drafted by the Panthers. I was already texting him, direct messaging him, when he was at Stanford saying, 'Man, I think the Panthers are going to take you, and if they do and you want to hang out, hit me up.'
"The first year as a rookie, obviously, he had a lot going on. We didn't get together till the All-Star Race going into his second year. And I invited him out," Dillon continued. "He came out. We had a blast hanging out, him and I, and a couple of my friends stayed really close and [have] been to games with him, hung out at his condo before the football games. He's just an awesome dude and [I'm] a big fan of his because of all the hard work. He's inspired me, actually, a lot to do a lot of things differently about how I approach things. And he takes his job very seriously and his health."
This friendship has continued to blossom during McCaffrey's career, and it led to fun trips, and a new nickname. Dillon and the group of friends call themselves the "wolf pack." They even have special tattoos to serve as a reminder of their times together.
"So when they asked who I could find to do a playoff video, I was like, 'Oh, hit up CMC,'" Dillon continued. "He put one together for me, quick. Quick selfie vid. And the wolf stuff comes from a group of my buddies. I have a hat that's like a wolf pack that we call it the wolf pack. And we went to Daytona one time on a fun friends' trip and had a good time and created the wolf pack. We all got tattoos together. So I think he was just calling me a wolf from that."
As McCaffrey's hype video showed, he has faith in his friend. Dillon isn't the favorite to win the championship trophy considering that Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have combined for the most wins in 2020, but that doesn't automatically eliminate the No. 3. Dillon previously told reporters that he prefers to fly under the radar and then sneak up on his fellow drivers, and Sunday is his first opportunity.
The NASCAR playoffs begin on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. Dillon and his fellow drivers will fight for crucial points at one of the Cup Series' most challenging tracks. Dillon doesn't know if he will secure the victory on Sunday, but McCaffrey has faith that the wolf will pounce on the competition.