Tuesday, May 24

Ford Performance NASCAR: Daytona 500 Media Day (Austin Cindric and Harrison Burton)

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford MustangWHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR AIRSTREAM?  “My Airstream.  Funny enough I left when the garage closed as I usually do and it was about 10 p.m. and I opened the door and it was off, so that’s a problem.  So, I problem solved for about an hour-and-a-half last night and got some power, took a shower and went to bed.  Otherwise, it’s all great.  But, if I would have stayed in the team hotel, the fire alarm went off at 2 a.m., so the Airstream still wins.”

 

ARE YOU RENTING THIS OR OWNING IT?  “It’s my parent’s.  They bring it to a couple races.  They’ll take the dog with them.  They like going to Barber with it and a couple Indy Car races, so I’ll bring it to a couple races, but I am definitely a fan of standing up in the shower and I cannot stand up in that shower, so the hotel program is definitely more for me, but there’s a couple logistical races that make sense.”

 

HARRISON BURTON, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang – DOES THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR TITLE MATTER TO YOU?  IS IT A REAL COMPETITION?  “I think so, yeah, it definitely matters.  You look at the list of people that have won it in the past and it contains some of the best to ever do it.  Anytime you can kind of put yourself on that list as the same group of guys I think you work hard to do it.  It’s definitely a big deal.  I know it is to me personally, for sure.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – “To build off of that, I think it’s something that you probably focus on later in the year.  Right now, we’re not competitive with one another.  We’ll go workout together and try to one-up each other, but, otherwise, it’s not like we’re hiding information from one another and not talking about things.  Obviously, we treat each other like teammates, just like Ryan and Joey, so I don’t think it’s a conflict of interest in any way.”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – “It’s so tough to try and match this guy on the rowing machine because he just pulls forever.  You see his legs?  Holy cow.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – “What about those pull-ups?”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – “You got me there.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – DO YOU TRY TO OUT-DO EACH OTHER?  “He’s not as bad as Scott McLaughlin.  I’ll be on the same treadmill right next to Scott and if I’m at 10.2, he’ll put his at 10.3 until we’re at 14 miles an hour and we’re all about to fall off the thing because it’s maxed out and we’ve been running for a minute.  I think Harrison is competitive, for sure, because if I start trying harder, he’ll start trying harder, but I think it’s good to have friendly competition, but I think he stays within reason.” 

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – “I still try and at least do the regimen that we have.  I think Scotty is up there just trying to go all-out the whole time.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – HOW DO YOU BALANCE OUT YOUR FRIENDSHIP WITH BATTLING FOR THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD?  “I think it’s just a respect thing.  Harrison and I have raced each other for a little while and we went to high school together, so we’ve known each other for a while.  We’re obviously here for the same reason and it’s because we want to be successful and not just as the rookie of the year, but understanding and grasping what it takes to be successful at the Cup Series level.  I think from that standpoint there’s a lot more that we can gain out of helping each other than there is doing anything different.  It doesn’t help our team at all either if there’s a different mindset there.  I think especially in the first couple months of this new car and as we’re learning together, obviously, Harrison is working with somebody that I’ve worked with for a really long time, so I think there’s a natural connection there between the 21 team as well as my team to really help build our company forward.”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – “I echo that.  It’s easy.  We’re all learning together and Joey and Ryan have been the same way.  They’ve been really helpful for both Austin and myself.  The biggest thing is as rookies it’s easy to just ask questions, ask questions and never contribute, so our job is to learn as quickly as we can and be able to help the team as much as we can as soon as possible.  It’s really not too tough, I would say.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED HOW MUCH HAVE THE PRACTICES HELPED FOR SUNDAY’S RACE?  “I could do a single-car run with my eyes closed, let me tell you.  We have not done a whole lot of pack runs or in traffic or anything like that.  You can drive with one hand if you want.  It certainly has been a bit of a process understanding with these tests how can we maximize this car.  As you’ve seen, things are ever-changing as far as the regulations and what’s gonna be normal.  I think you’re gonna have to be flexible throughout the first part of this year as the race teams get their hands on the cars, but I thing from my perspective we’re not gonna know anything until the Duels, and even from the Duels there’s a lot of different motivations for other people, whether it’s people trying to make it into the race, people trying to work on their starting position, people who are already set on their starting spot, people who want to ride in the 500 regardless of their starting spot, so I think there are a lot of different motivations throughout the field.  I think you’re gonna have to constantly learn on the fly throughout the race.”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – “I would echo that in that our tests were definitely the most aggressive pack racing we’ve done earlier this season, and that was when I felt like I learned the most about what I could do, what blocks I could make and couldn’t make.  It’s definitely different.  There are lines you can’t cross that you would be able to cross with the old car because you’ll just crash.  There’s different grip levels and different factors that go into that.  That was the biggest learning experience for me and there were only 15 cars.

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – “And 10 laps, too.  It was the first pack run really made and we had only like one single-car run beforehand.  I was like, ‘No, let them race.”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – “So there’s that and then there’s the 500, where it’s 40 cars for 500 miles and how do you manage that.  As the whole season is gonna go for both of us we’re gonna have to learn on the fly quite a bit and this is definitely the first example of that.”

 

HOW PREPARED ARE YOU TO BE PART OF THE DAYTONA 500 FOR THE FIRST TIME?  “As an excitement level goes, it’s pegged.  I’m just over the moon that I’m here and able to kind of live out this dream I’ve had since I was a little kid.  That’s awesome, but as far as nerves go, I’m sure there will be some.  I’ve done two Cup races so far and one was Talladega, which is an electric atmosphere.  The Clash at the Coliseum was the same way.  It felt like a college football game and it was awesome.  I mean, it was cool to be a part of that and then now the 500, I think, is gonna be the biggest of them all obviously.  I’ve watched my dad do it and I’ve understood the moment and I’ve raced for a long time myself, so I think mostly I’ll be ready for it.  It’s something you have to have some thought into, but I’ll be ready for it.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – WOULD YOU LIKE TO RUN THE INDY 500 SOME DAY?  “I’ll be conscious of the fact that I’m sitting here on Daytona 500 media day sitting at the Daytona International Speedway when I talk about the Indy 500 and how important it is to my family and, really, for me in motorsports there’s like probably nothing bigger, at least from my lifetime and my upbringing, but, yeah, it’s certainly something I have my eye on and it’s also something I don’t see in the near future for me.  My commitment level has never been higher to one form of racing that it has in the last couple of years as my career in NASCAR has been.  I’ve got an amazing opportunity in front of me that I want to make the absolute most of and if I find a few reasons to think that I’m not gonna get shot down when I ask for it, it’s not just as simple as asking Roger Penske, ‘Oh, can I run the Indy 500?’  It’s not that easy, but hopefully one day I feel like I can establish myself enough to find a time that we can do it because I would certainly love to, but I’ve got more direct things I want to tackle first.”

 

HOW DID DINNER GO WITH ROGER AT THE CAPITAL GRILLE AFTER WINNING AT INDY?  “I had a race the next day, so I had another job to do.  It was very clear to me that I had another job to do the next day, but winning at Indy last year was pretty awesome, but nothing really compares to the 500.”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – HOW STEEP IS THE LEARNING CURVE FOR YOU THIS YEAR?  “it’s super steep and you look at the rookie stats from year’s past and it’s obvious there’s a learning curve there.  You’ve seen some of the best to ever do it and some of them will struggle in their rookie year and the best rookie year of recent history is probably Denny Hamlin was like a 12.5 average finish and two wins, so that’s like the over the moon, like the best in recent history, and then there’s guys that get 25th average finish.  Trying to find your way through that and understand that this is the hardest form of racing that I’ve ever done and this is the highest level I’ve ever done it at.  So understanding that and understanding the work that has to go into beating these guys and beating Larson is gonna have to be a lot.  We have a lot of lost time to try and make up for really quickly and I know that we’re doing our best to do it.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – “I think to add onto that if you were to make a quantifiable list of all the things that Harrison and I and Todd and anybody else who has been a rookie in this series to learn, you’d top on top of that a new car, you’d have a lot of subjects we’ve got to cover that are completely new, whether that’s being around new people, a new race team, a new car, new competitors, a couple new tracks on the schedule.  There are certainly things that make this challenging, but I think with change is an opportunity and I think it’s a great opportunity for both of us to go out and really apply ourselves. I think to Harrison’s point, you look at guys in more recent history with more recent race formats and you think of guys like Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Tyler Reddick, William Byron, those are guys that I look at that I’ve either raced against or looked up to contending for wins and championships against, and those are guys that aren’t just showing up in the Cup Series and winning races.  You look at that transition and what it’s been like for those guys.  You look at someone like Christopher Bell, who every step of the ladder for me has been the most dominant guy and it’s hard.  You get to the Cup Series and it’s hard, so I don’t know what to expect on that front other than what I’ve observed, but from our perspective we want to overcome that better than they did.  Otherwise, it’s certainly gonna be a challenge and not sure what those are yet.”  

 

WHO DO YOU LEAN ON FOR ADVICE?  “I think you pick and choose the information that you process and listen to, just like anything else.  There are gonna be plenty of people that want to tell you how to do something, especially when you’re struggling.  It’s when people stop telling you how to do things that means no one cares anymore, but I think there’s certainly a plethora of information, it’s just how to process it.”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – “I’ll add to that.  Our two teammates have kind of both, Joey started when he was super young and had his start and then kind of came into his own and ended up being a Cup champion and Ryan is kind of doing the same thing and winning races consistently and being fast every weekend.  They’ve kind of gone through that and leaning off of those two has been awesome so far.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – “I’ve actually found myself paying attention to other sports.  Like, you’ll see college athletes, like Trevor Lawrence – somebody who hardly ever lost a game in his entire career since high school.  Obviously, he’s put in an organization that isn’t as strong as the best teams, but you try and pay attention to other sports like that and what those processes are like mentality-wise, how does that change different guys.  I’ve found that to be fairly valuable because it’s more a controlled environment.  There’s more details to go off of, where as like in racing you don’t pick and choose the opportunities you get to move up.  I’m sure this time last year Harrison didn’t think he was gonna be driving the Wood Brothers car because I thought I was driving the Wood Brothers car this time last year.  This changes so quickly and so rapidly and there are so many external factors that sometimes I actually find mentality-wise other sports are pretty useful in that respect.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – LOGANO SAID HE’S NOT CHANGING A THING THIS WEEK.  ARE YOU GOING TO DO THE SAME OR BE MORE CONSERVATIVE?  “It depends if my backup car is shared with him or not.  I don’t know.  I think you have to race.  The way I see it is there’s three other superspeedways on the schedule and you have to learn at some point and you have to learn what moves to make by the end of the Daytona 500.  Obviously, you do that by proceeding with a certain amount of calculated risk, but, otherwise, from a parts perspective I think it’s more two, three races down the line how does this affect us as a company.  If all four of us wreck out in the Daytona 500, I don’t think it’s gonna change whether or not we show up at Fontana with all of the cars.  It’s certainly a calculated risk, but the Daytona 500 means a lot.”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – “Yeah, especially as two rookies and Austin has run the 500 before, but this is a new car too, so you have to get aggressive and you have to learn what the limits are because the last thing that you would want is to put yourself in position to win the 500 and then miss the block late, or don’t have the right push late to help your teammate go up front and that be from I was too concerned about crashing.  So, I feel like as drivers you couldn’t really live with yourself if you have a chance to win this race and you let it go for that reason.  I think it would be really something that would weigh on you for a long time.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR BEING LOCKED INTO THE 500 VERSUS LAST YEAR?  “My anxiety level was significantly lower today than it was Wednesday of last year’s Speedweeks.  Between that and having the Xfinity race and trying to be successful on that side of the garage, but I’m feeling like I can actually enjoy this a little bit more.”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – WHAT ADVICE HAVE YOU BEEN GIVEN BY PEOPLE IN THE GARAGE?  “I’ve had a lot of advice and I think one of the most interesting ones was from my dad, who said that the Daytona 500 Sunday is probably the craziest day of your life because every sponsor is here.  This is the biggest venue with the most fans in the infield.  I mean, it’s craziness, so being prepared for that.  A lot of times I like to spend a lot of time alone before I race and think about things and understanding that you probably won’t be able to because you have to bounce around and see all these sponsors and do all this stuff that you normally don’t have to for every other race, and understanding that you have to be proactive and get your stuff done early and be prepared much earlier than Sunday, and that’s true for every race but more so for this one because you don’t have many hours on the clock on Sunday.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – HOW DO YOU REFLECT ON YOUR XFINITY WIN HERE LAST YEAR AS YOU BEGIN YOUR CUP CAREER?  “That race specifically was probably one of the most side drafting battles I had with this guy.  I think we were side drafting each other for six laps”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – “I’m so mad I lost that one.

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – “It’s come up like three times today and it just really grinds his gears.  I love it.  But, otherwise, being able to win a superspeedway race for me I feel like that was kind of checking all the boxes as far as all the different types of racetracks, at least in the Xfinity level, that I’ve been able to be successful at, so that was kind of one of the top things on my list last year to accomplish and it was obviously cool to get it done, but I think the Daytona 500 is significantly different than that specific race, but I’m looking forward to getting back and looking forward to having a shot at it.”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – WHAT KIND OF PRESSURE DO YOU FEEL RACING FOR A TEAM LIKE THE WOOD BROTHERS AND BEING THE SON OF A SUCCESSFUL CUP DRIVER?  “There’s definitely pressure and it’s not really, for me personally, it’s not from external sources or anyone else, it’s just from me because I care about this sport and I want to be a part of it for a long time and there’s nothing I want more than to work really hard and prove that I belong this year.  There’s pressure in that, but what happens outside of my personal head hasn’t really added any extra pressure, just the people around me have been really helpful and the group with the 21 car has been amazing with the Wood Brothers and then the help from Team Penske.  It’s been awesome so far.  I’ve had every resource I need to go and succeed, so the pressure from that isn’t there, but the pressure from myself is certainly there because I want to do well.”

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – “I think from my standpoint the job of driving the race car is relatively the same.  Obviously, different factors, different team, a whole lot of newness, but otherwise the job is relatively the same, but for me it’s actually been a bit of a perspective change because as a young driver you spend your entire career striving to get to the next level.  When you’re in late models you want to go race at a national series level.  If you’re in trucks you want to be in Xfinity.  If you’re in Xfinity, you want to be in Cup.  Even when you’re at that next level you’re like, ‘OK, what’s after this?  What am I striving for next?’  There’s usually like clear-cut areas for you to be at and I’m at the highest level now.  That’s it. That’s why there are guys that have been doing this for decades at a time.  That’s why there are guys that are the absolute best and guys that have gotten here and not been able to do a thing.  For me, I have to have that perspective change that there’s nothing after this.  It’s how do you refine what you’ve learned to this point to make you the best, and I’ve got a lot of different notebooks to pull from.  To Harrison’s point, we have all the resources possible to become successful, so how you utilize those is critically important and I don’t want to just compete I want to be successful.  That process starts this weekend for me and it’s exciting, but I’m looking forward to getting started and actually have something to base it off of.”

 

HARRISON BURTON CONTINUED – WHAT WOULD BE AT THE HEAD OF YOUR WISH LIST IF YOU COULD TALK TO YOUR DAD AS HEAD OF THE DRIVER’S COUNCIL?  “Wow, I haven’t thought about it.  I feel like that’s insider trading or something.  I don’t know.  I’m new here, so this is my first run at this and I tend to let the guys that have been around for a long time and established themselves put on the wish list and I just kind of listen and sometimes I’ll text in our driver’s group chat.  I’ve sent one message so far and checked that off the box.  Other than that, I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

 

WHAT WAS YOUR ONE MESSAGE?  “My friends, who are all in college, I felt like the Clash was a success because they don’t really care about racing, but that was the most I ever heard from my friends who are all in college about a race, so I felt like it had the younger audience interested.”

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