WELCOME, N.C. -- Austin Dillon thought it was just another run-of-the-mill interview.
After all, the 27-year-old NASCAR driver has had plenty of those since Sunday night, when he won his first Daytona 500. But instead, as he answered questions Wednesday morning at Richard Childress Racing, he was interrupted by a tap on his shoulder and a young voice.
Dillon turned around, and when he saw who had tapped him, he realized what was going on -- a reunion.
There was Jordan, the 11-year-old boy from Bradenton, Fla., who gave Dillon a lucky penny during the week before his Daytona 500 victory. The penny harkened back to the 1998 Daytona 500 two decades ago, when Wessa Miller famously gave Dale Earnhardt a lucky penny before the only Daytona 500 victory of his career.
"All of a sudden (he came up) from behind me, and I didn't hear him sneaking up or nothing," Dillon said. "That was cool."
As organic as the original lucky penny story was, Jordan and Dillon's was the same. Dillon saw Jordan in an autograph line the weekend before the Daytona 500, and Dillon gave Jordan his hat (and signed it) if Jordan agreed to be his fan. Jordan said of course he would.
But the next day, Jordan wanted to repay Dillon's kindness.
"He said Austin was so nice to him the night before with the hat, so he had to have something for him," said Michelle Logue, Jordan's grandmother, who accompanied him to RCR. "He said, 'I don't have nothing to give him!' The other two kids (near him) had a horseshoe and a four-leaf clover, but it was girlish and he didn't want that, so he came up with the penny."
Dillon, who was in Victory Lane with Earnhardt all those years ago, remembered the original penny story -- and how it turned out. So he decided to glue his penny in the car, too.