Austin Dillon receives honor from Little League International

Auto Racing hasn't always been Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon's only sport. He's a former baseball player who played in the 2002 Little League World Series, and Little League International is honoring the baseball player-turned-auto racer with enshrinement in the Little League Hall of Excellence.

“Each year, we look to find those men and women who have gone on from their days as Little Leaguers to take those values and life lessons they learned on the playing field to their role as leaders in the community,” Little League President and CEO Stephen D. Keener said. “Austin Dillon has proven to be a tremendous leader, both on the race track and as a role model for the future generation of our world. We are honored to present this award to Austin and are excited to hopefully welcome him back to Williamsport to relive the magic he experienced in 2002.”

Dillon played baseball from the Little League ranks through his second year of high school, and in 2002, his Southwest Forsyth County, N.C., team was among the 16 teams to make the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. His team didn't win a game, but Dillon was able to score a hit in the series.

“That experience was really something special,” Dillon said. "I got to make some lifelong friends during that time, and one of my best friends to this day, Robbie Scott, was our shortstop on our team, and we’ve been friends ever since. It was a really special time, and I’m glad I got to be a part of it. I always watch baseball a little differently now after playing in the Little League World Series.”

Dillon shifted his focus from baseball to racing in high school, but he still keeps his eye on the Little League World Series.

“Every year when the Little League World Series comes on TV, we’re all gathered around watching it,” Dillon said. "It’s always something that’s on and talked about when we’re in the trailer and getting ready for the weekend. “I just wanted to do my part to give back and congratulate them. I had a lot of good coaches and mentors throughout my life that influenced me, and hopefully, I can give back the knowledge that I acquired from them.”

When it comes to racing accomplishments, Dillon is a champion of both the NASCAR Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck series. He has 208 starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, racing full-time in NASCAR's top series as driver of the #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet since 2014. He has two Cup Series wins, coming in two of the sport's crown jewel races -- the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 and the 2018 Daytona 500.