Saturday, Dec 03

Ford Performance NASCAR: Phoenix 1 (Michael McDowell & Austin Cindric Media Availability )

Michael McDowell, driver of the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang, will be racing in front of his hometown fans this weekend as the NASCAR Cup Series completes its three-race western swing at Phoenix Raceway.  McDowell met with media members at Phoenix Raceway Saturday morning.

 

MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang -- THE LAST FEW YEARS YOU HAVE BEEN PAIRED WITH A LOT OF ROOKIE TEAMMATES. WHAT IS THAT LIKE? “It hasn’t been ideal, obviously. The conditions with no practice and no qualifying has been hard for the rookies the last few years, for sure. It has been a challenge. It is hard because you need two people, you need both teams pushing the organization forward and it is hard to do that without building momentum and chemistry and all those things. I think that Todd (Gilliland) is doing a great job and I think Todd will be here for a long time. Hopefully, we won’t be having any more new rookie teammates. It has been good though, there have been times it has been good. For the most part, you just need both programs pushing everything forward and I think we have that now.”

 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE DOGLEG AND DRIVING ON THE APRON HERE? “Yeah, it is still a question mark I think. These cars are really low to the ground in the back with the diffuser and those are things you don't want to damage. You want as much on there as possible. I think there will be times when people will go down there to make a pass or do something like that. For me, I am not going to be the first one down there. I will wait and see and try to utilize it when you need it. But it is a little bit of an unknown. I watched a few guys try to do it in practice when we were here for the test. You definitely don't want to damage the underneath side of these cars because it affects the aero so much.”

 

WILL YOU SHIFT HERE AT ALL? AND ALSO, WHAT DO YOU THINK ATLANTA WILL RACE LIKE? “Well, we are going to have to shift here because you have to get to fifth gear somewhere. I am just kidding. I think you will. I think there will be a lot of guys shifting. I think in the test you try to keep everything as consistent as possible, especially when you have data on the car and trying to measure what is better and what is not. As it gets warm and as the pace drops off and tires fall off, I think you will hear a lot of guys in the Cup Series shifting on both ends. This car is a little easier than our previous generation car with the sequential shifter that definitely helps. I think it will be a tool that you use more often this season than we have pretty much anywhere else.”

 

“As for Atlanta, I think it is a big unknown. I watched the YouTube of the tire test and saw some of that stuff. I wasn’t there but it looked fairly easy and wide-open. So when you get traffic, who knows what it will be like. But we are anticipating it being like Daytona. That is kind of the mindset we are going and if we have to adapt when we get there then we will see.”



 

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes

NASCAR Cup Series

Ruoff Mortgage 500 | Saturday, March 12, 2022

Page 2

 

Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 2 AutoTrader Ford Mustang met with media members at Phoenix Raceway Saturday morning.

 

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 2 Autotrader Ford Mustang -- YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS HERE AT PHOENIX. HOW DO YOU BALANCE PRIOR KNOWLEDGE HERE IN THE XFINITY SERIES OVER TO THE CUP SERIES AND THE NEXT GEN CAR? “I think that is a great question. I think it is something that is pretty important to me this weekend. I am a big believer that we are still just driving cars on a race track. There are a lot of differences with the car and on the aero side but it is still the same race track. Track prep wise, it has perhaps evolved in a different way from the last time we were here and will continue to do so but it is still the same race track so I am trying to subjugate the things that I have learned about this car versus the things I already know about the track.”

 

RACING BELOW THE APRON IN THE DOGLEG, HOW DO YOU APPROACH THAT? “I will certainly not be the first one to attempt that. I am sure there will be plenty of people with that same answer. I will be interested to see if anybody does it in practice. I would usually do it in practice -- if I am being honest I would usually do it in practice with my Xfinity car just to see what I am going to bend up and sometimes that could be beneficial or negative but traditionally we have had the opportunity to go back and fix it. Right now if I break something and we have to fix it we have to start in the back so I am going to try my best not to break something in practice.”

 

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE DAYTONA 500 WINNING CAR BEING BACK IN ITS TRADITIONAL PLACE? “I am really glad that we were able to find a solution there and it really serves tradition properly. It is a source of pride to have that sitting there and be on display and it is a pretty awesome achievement and it will be cool to come back there in August and see the whole display with the wall of winners. You look at all those faces and names on there and it is pretty surreal to think I will be among those guys.”

 

DO YOU THINK THE NOTES AND DATA GATHERED THIS WEEKEND WILL BE HELD AT A PREMIUM BECAUSE YOU ARE RETURNING HERE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND OR WILL YOU LEARN SO MUCH OVER THE YEAR IT MIGHT NOT MATTER AS MUCH? “I think all of the above. YOu look at this weekend and obviously the championship race is here and we are in the playoffs I obviously want to come back and have a purpose in November but it is also the first short track race we are going to. It is the conclusion of the west coast swing and we have done every type of race track. We have had a high-falloff race track, a traditional 1.5-mile, and a short track where we are going to be using the brake pedal. There will be a balance between what we learn this weekend and how much we are going to evolve as a sport and race teams by the time November comes around. Alsl those things are in my head and I think this is certainly a solid foundation for your notebook to start the year.”

 

HOW DID THE CAR DRIVE AERO WISE LAST WEEK AT VEGAS COMPARED TO SOME OF THE TIMES YOU WERE IN THE CAR LAST YEAR? “I would probably say more similar to that than my Xfinity car. You look at how much drag and downforce this car produces and I would say in a lot of ways your on-throttle time and driving characteristics are probably more similar to a Truck Series car than maybe the Xfinity Car is. From that standpoint, I had to think back a few years to racing at Vegas in a truck. You watch the Xfinity broadcast and listen to those guys and they are all the way out of the gas and on the brake and I don't think I touched the brake except to go to pit road or in traffic situations. Aero-wise, you can talk about all the different components on this car but I think aero is the biggest difference and the biggest thing all the drivers have to learn right now.”

 

HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU WITH THIS NEXT GEN CAR DRIVING IT AND HOW THAT HAS INCREASED OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS WITH MORE RACES UNDER YOUR BELT? “I think it has increased. The funny thing is I did like two laps of practice at Vegas and Vegas is a fast track and pulling a lot of corner loads and my right buttcheek was on fire after like two laps because I don't have the muscle memory for this car. The reason I say that is because Xfinity cars or the previous generation car had more side force and more yaw in the corner and your body is in a different position and you are bracing yourself in a different position. Things that are just easy muscle memory are now oriented much differently. It is like if you were to put your seat in a different spot. Those things are becoming more normal and that will continue to progress. I think it is just part of having the muscle memory.”

 

IS THERE ANY PLAN FOR YOUR DAYTONA 500 CAR AFTER IT LEAVES THERE? HAVE YOU NEGOTIATED ANYTHING WITH ROGER (PENSKE) YET? “I definitely don't think I am first in line for any ownership of that. It is Roger’s car and I think it will stay that way.”

 

WILL ATLANTA NEXT WEEK LOOK LIKE DAYTONA? “I think it will be a hybrid in a lot of ways. Honestly, I don't really know. I think we are preparing in some ways for it to be that way from a racing standpoint but from a car standpoint and necessity for grip, I think you still need to have driveability and practice being able to handle and be able to stay close to guys. I think that is one thing I have got on the top of my head. You are going to have drafting situations but if I am too tight to stay tucked up to somebody then that is difficult. Also, tire-wise it is a lot different than what we ran at Daytona and a lot different than what we will run at Talladega just from a stagger perspective. I am interested to see how that rebalances and races. I haven’t driven a lap on the race track and we will have practice. There is a lot of different talk about racing procedures and what it will look like. I think as an industry we need to be open-minded throughout the weekend.”

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