Austin Dillon, NASCAR driver of the famed No. 3 Chevrolet, stopped by the San Diego Padres’ spring training game at Peoria Sports Complex for NASCAR Day for batting practice, a fan Q and A, and to throw out the first pitch before the Padres played the Cleveland Indians. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Raceway)
NASCAR and baseball collide at Cactus League game
NASCAR racing and baseball came together to celebrate spring training before a game in Peoria.
Before competing at the Phoenix Raceway for the FanShield 500 March 6-8, NASCAR star Austin Dillon stopped by the San Diego Padres’ spring training prior to their game against the Cleveland Indians on Feb. 26.
During NASCAR Day at Peoria Sports Complex, Dillon participated in a full morning of baseball activities. He was able to hang out with some Padres players to discuss racing and baseball. Dillon even invited the players to come out to the races at Phoenix Raceway next weekend.
It had been a while since Dillon picked up a baseball bat. Before deciding to focus on racing full time, Dillon played baseball. In 2002, his team represented the Southeast Region in the Little League World Series.
Dillon drives the famed No. 3 Chevrolet and is currently in his seventh full-time season in the series. Dillon has 17 career NASCAR victories across the three national series and won championships in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2011 and 2013, respectively. His first career NASCAR Cup Series victory came in the 2018 DAYTONA 500.
After observing Padres batting practice, Dillon had his turn to hit the cages.
“It took me a couple cuts to get warmed up, but I think I did a pretty good job,” Dillon said.
After enduring rain at the Pennzoil 400 in Las Vegas last weekend, Dillon was excited to come out to a spring training game in the Arizona weather.
“Anytime you can come to Phoenix, Arizona and enjoy the weather, it’s like a mini-vacation,” said Dillon.
Recently, Phoenix Raceway underwent a $178 million renovation under president Julie Giese’s leadership. One part of that renovation was a new experience called “The INfield” where fans can get closer than ever to the drivers in an open-air garage.
“What they’ve done at Phoenix Raceway is amazing,” Dillon said. “The experience, I always feel like it’s great. With the updates that they’ve done, I feel like the facility is good as any facility in sports. I love seeing the fans being able to interact in our garage.”
Right before the game between the Padres and the Cleveland Indians, Dillon held a Q&A and threw out the first pitch to get fans excited for the upcoming races.
“I’m a huge baseball fan and it worked out really good,” said Dillon. “I think a lot of baseball fans are huge NASCAR fans. It’s a cool opportunity for our sport and it will get more people out to the racetrack.”
Phoenix Raceway, which completed its $178 million modernization project in 2018, is hosting the 2020 NASCAR Championship Weekend Nov. 6-8.
Peoria Sports Complex is the Spring Training home of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. Visit CactusLeague.com to view the full Spring Training schedule.