Ford Performance NASCAR: Talladega 1 Media Availability (Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell, Cole Custer & Austin Cindric)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, April 26, 2019
EVENT: GEICO 500 Media Rotations

MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang — HOW WAS YOUR PRACTICE? “It was fun. Anytime you have this many changes with the package you want to get some seat time and figure out the runs and figure out how to time passes and where the momentum is going to come from. We haven’t had a really big group, maybe about 10 or 12 cars, so that always changes once you get everybody out there. The cars will drive extremely different. It was good to get our Love’s Travel Stops Ford out there and work with my teammates David Ragan and Matt Tifft and just trying things. The last few years when you come here you sort of have what you have and you see where your speed it at and you don’t want to tear anything up before the race or qualifying. Now there is a sense of urgency to go figure this out and figure out how we can make them drive better and feel good and what we need to do better to be fast.”

ANYTHING FEEL TOTALLY DIFFERENT OUT THERE? “It is significantly different. The closing rate is three times as fast as what we have seen here in the past. You get really big runs and close up on the group very quickly. That is going to create – anytime you have a speed differential it is going to create some excitement.”
American Muscle

CAN YOU PROJECT THAT TO SUNDAY? “No. I think that you have an idea but until you get 40 cars out there you don’t really know. It gives us a better idea of what it is going to be like.”

DAVID RAGAN WAS SAYING THAT THE CARS ARE TOO FRAGILE, EASY TO BEND UP, AND THAT THE CARS NEED TO BE MADE SO THAT YOU GUYS CAN BUMP AND BOUNCE A LITTLE OUT THERE: “Yeah, just pushing David around there a little bit and his bumper is beat, the rear bumper is beat, the front bumper is beat. You used to be able to have significant contact at these places and it not be a big deal but everything is built to be light and fast and I hadn’t really thought about it. I don’t know if that would create better racing or not but if David says it is better, then it is better.”

“I brushed the wall coming off turn two at Richmond, which is a short track, and typically you can bounce off the wall at a short track like Martinsville or Richmond, and 10 laps later I had a flat right rear and crashed. I do agree it would be nice to have more forgiveness so that you could race harder.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Snap On Ford Mustang — “I was just at the car and they just changed the rules. They changed a gear and are adding a whicker to the cars. I am trying to understand what is going on there but I had to come here.”

WILL THERE BE ANOTHER PRACTICE THEN? “I haven’t heard anything like that. Maybe.”

CLOSING RATE WAS INSANE? “It is like the trucks. If you think the trucks are insane, then yeah. If you don’t think they are, then no.”

DO YOU HAVE MORE THROTTLE RESPONSE? “Yeah, but that only matters coming off pit road. After that it is irrelevant.”

SPEEDS ARE UP? “No. Last time we were here in the fall we ran 46.90 and today we ran 47.0 and teens. So it is a little slower at the moment. Potentially it could get a little faster.”

ARE YOU STILL DIGESTING ALL THIS? “A little bit. We are only one practice in and things are chaning. I am sure things will change up until the cars run through tech.”

WHO IS THE BEST RESTRICTOR PLATE RACER ON THE CIRCUIT TODAY? “I don’t know. The rules keep changing. Every time the rules change there is a new opportunity.”

DO YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR ABILITY TO ADAPT AT WHATEVER CHANGES THEY THROW AT YOU? “I would like to think so. Generally when you have the first race or two after a rules change it is hard to stay on top of it. The cars develop really fast, the tactics develop really fast and the drivers are usually a good bit behind it because we are not anticipating what is going to happen.”

THE ANNISTON STAR NAMED YOU AMONG THE TOP-10 OF THE TOP-100 DRIVERS AT TALLADEGA: “Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that. To be honest I am so focused on trying to win this one that I don’t have time to reflect on those kind of things. I just want to win now while I have the cars and team to do it.”

FROM THE TEAM PERSPECTIVE, YOU PUT ALL THIS TIME AND R&D INTO THINGS AND NOW THERE ARE RULE CHANGES. IS THAT FRUSTRATING? “I think pretty much everyone coming here thought there was a large potential for an audible along the way. I am not frustrated, I am just focused.”

DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING LAST WEEK DURING YOUR MEETINGS WITH NASCAR BRASS? “We just talked about the culture that they want to continue to improve. There are a million different ideas. A lot to sort through still.”

DID YOU LIKE MOST OF THE IDEAS? “You have ones you like and ones you don’t like. That is the nature of sitting in those things. I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised by the schedule changes that came out a few weeks prior and there was more conversation around that which I think were really healthy. That was encouraging.”

RELATIVE TO WHAT WE HAVE HAD IN RECENT PAST, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT SUNDAY’S RACE TO LOOK LIKE? “A lot like a truck race, just 500 miles. Perhaps a little higher attrition.”

ISN’T THAT WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT LAS VEGAS? “No, not with Vegas, at least I don’t remember that. I remember thinking that if it was like the test, but it didn’t end up like the test. What is funny is, whatever the sentiment is today, the race will be the opposite. All the drivers are listening and if you say they are going to wreck everybody they will get scared and won’t run tight and wreck each other. If you say it will be just fine, they will all run over each other. It tends to go inverse of the weekly sentiment.”

DO YOU EVER GET COMFORTABLE HERE? “I don’t think you can here with the way it changes. There is always a new tactic, car development, rule development. It is the nature of the beast.”

YOU WERE PART OF THE RIBBON CUTTING THIS MORNING AT THE RV PARK. HOW COOL IS IT TO SEE THE UPCOMING ENHANCEMENTS HERE? “It is cool. They are putting in a new garage area soon and that is great to make it interactive with the fans. I am curious if they are going to work on the phone service at the same time. I would put that real high up on the list. The fact that they are working on things is something I am proud of.”

CAN YOU TELL A DIFFERENCE ON THE TRACK DUE TO THE NEW TUNNEL IN TURN 3? “There is a little transition but it isn’t the end of the world. I think we expected that.”

WHY DO YOU THINK YOU ARE SO GOOD HERE? “Well, I have caught some good breaks and been fortunate to be put in some good positions along the way. I feel like the key to this track has been, and always will be, accepting the fact that opportunities to wreck are pretty high and the races where you don’t wreck you have to capitalize. In my career, I have shrugged off the times we have wrecked here and relished the opportunities we haven’t to make the most of them.”

WHO WOULD BE ON YOUR MOUNT RUSHMORE OF TALLADEGA? “The Dale’s, they were really strong here. Outside of them probably Jeff (Gordon) or Davey Allison.”

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS)
Friday, April 26, 2019
EVENT: MoneyLion 300- Media Rotations

COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Jacob Companies Ford Mustang — HOW WAS PRACTICE? “It was good. I think we were pretty solid. I don’t know if we had the best speed out there but that isn’t what it is all about. It will be about drafting and making the right moves at the right time. We had a good handling Mustang. You won’t know til the race but we will see. Hopefully it is a more exciting race than Daytona.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE DASH 4 CASH? “I am excited. We won it in Richmond and it is a really cool deal that Xfinity does. The $100,000 to win is a huge deal for us and our teams. We go out there and race as hard as we can to try to win that and if it comes down to it at the end we will be beating and banging for it.”

DO YOU GUYS SHARE THAT AMONGST THE WHOLE TEAM WHEN YOU WIN? “I think every team is different. Out of the $100,000 the team gets some, the guys get a bonus and the driver gets some. Everybody gets a little bit of it. I think every team is different about how they split it up. I am not even sure exactly how we do it.”

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT WEEK AT DOVER? “Dover is a place that we kind of struggled with at first but we ran really good there in the fall race and led laps and finished second. It is a really fun track if you are out front and have a good car. Everybody wants to win that monster trophy. If we can go there and be strong, we are going to go for the win for sure.”

WINNING THAT LITTLE SHORT TRACK RACE A FEW WEEKS AGO HAD TO FEEL REALLY GOOD: “Yeah, it was huge for our team, the first short track win for our organization in general, and Richmond was always a place we struggled so it was nice to go there and get a win and show some speed. We are ready to get the $100,000 again this weekend.”

IMPRESSIONS OF THIS PLACE AFTER PRACTICE? “It is Talladega. It is always crazy and ayou never know what will happen. You try to get a feel for your car in practice and then go out there and be aggressive and stay out front.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO CHANGE A CAR AROUND FROM BEING ILL-HANDLING TO BETTER AT THIS TRACK? “There are multiple things. On the front end you can change toe if your car is wandering some. You can definitely make changes. It won’t be like you will see at a short track or something but if you car isn’t handling good you can make changes to make it better.”

WHO DO YOU TRUST OUT THERE ON THE SPEEDWAYS? “I think you start with your teammates. You work with them the most. Then you go with your manufacturer support. There are only three Fords in the field with me, Chase and Austin Cindric. Hopefully we will work together a bit tomorrow and have each others backs. When it comes down to the very end, everyone is kind of out for themselves.”

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 12 MoneyLion Ford Mustang — DO YOU TAKE MOMENTUM FROM YOUR STRONG RUN AT RICHMOND INTO THIS RACE? “I can’t say there is too much you can bring from Richmond to Talladega but we have a lot of incentive to have a good weekend with the Dash 4 Cash and having the MoneyLion car in the MoneyLion 300.”

YOUR SEASON SEEMS TO GET BETTER AS IT GOES ON: “We have been consistent. The short tracks have been our forte so far. There is some speed we need to find on the downforce tracks. We are early in a 33-race schedule and there is a lot more to go speed wise if I want to be contending for wins every weekend. We have to be there by playoff time. Consistency has been really nice to have so far.”

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING YOU NEED TO WORK ON AS WE HEAD INTO THE SUMMER STRETCH? “The same things I have been improving on as a driver. Being able to give our team the right direction to execute and optimize races. I feel we have been able to do that for the past six or seven weeks. I want to keep up my job doing that and hopefully find some speed at some of the bigger tracks.”

DO YOU LIKE PLATE RACING? “I have to. Here we are. I am not paid to have an opinion about that.

DAYTONA ENDED UP BEING UNEVENTFUL WITH THE CARS STAYING MOSTLY SINGLE-FILE. WILL WE SEE THAT TOMORROW? “I am not going to tell you no because it is the same car at a similar race track. I feel like at Daytona you are more focused on the handling of the car, at least I was. As for complacency, it is easy for guys to point the finger and say guys don’t want to make a move but on the flip side of that, I don’t feel like these cars necessarily lend themselves to several cars being able to make a move and benefit. If you see one guy pull out and get three guys to go help him, only the guy that pulled out benefits if he gets the help. It is hard to be able to organize four or five people to come help you when all those people know they aren’t going to get any benefit from that help. It will be an interesting dynamic and I think a restart will definitely be able to jazz things up as well as Talladega being less of a handling race. And the Dash 4 Cash. $100,000 is a big incentive.”

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM YEAR ONE TO YEAR TWO? “A lot of it is comfort. For me it is about understanding what it takes to optimize a race weekend. As you get more mature and more experience you really learn what optimizing means. I feel like that is something we have really been able to do the last six or seven weeks no matter what factors are thrown at us. The only thing keeping us from finishing in the top-10 has been other cars wrecking and cleaning us out. That has happened a couple times and you can’t avoid that. As for winning races, I want to do that. That is my goal. That is why we are here. Having the run we had at Richmond is nice but I want to take that a step further.”

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR YOU TO WIN THAT DASH 4 CASH? “It would be huge but to get to victory lane in the MoneyLion 300 in the MoneyLion car would be huge. They have a lot of folks here this weekend and are my biggest supporter this season. This is the biggest race of the season for me in that respect. To try to execute will be really fun to navigate.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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