Ford Performance NASCAR: Michael McDowell Daytona Media Availability

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, July 5, 2019
EVENT: Coke Zero Sugar 400, Daytona Beach, FL.

MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Long John Silver’s Ford Mustang – HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS RACE? “They say it’s anybody’s ballgame, but it’s really the same winners a lot here. We’ve run well and I think that’s the thing I look forward to the most is Daytona is an opportunity race for a lot of people and we know that for sure, but it’s still the same 10 guys up there at the end typically. I’m just happy to be one of those 10 and you’ve got to put yourself in position to have a shot at it, which we’ve done a few times here and obviously with the 500 we had a shot at it and came up a little bit short, but we definitely circle this race as an opportunity for us to get a win and to kind of sneak our way into a Playoff spot, but also just to get a good finish and to hopefully score some stage points and make up some ground that we’ve lost over the last few months here, so yesterday was good. Practice went smooth. The car drove well, sucked up well. You don’t get the full feel of what it’s gonna be until you get into the race just because the packs aren’t quite big enough in practice, but it was hot and slick and that’s typical of what we have here, so hopefully it will race well tomorrow.”

WAS IT ENCOURAGING TO HAVE THE SPEED YOU SHOWED IN FEBRUARY? “Yeah, definitely, and I think more than anything, for myself, this has been my best track. Even prior to getting in the 34 is where a majority of my Top 5 and Top 10s have come, so for myself coming here I feel confident and then to have speed that we’ve had in qualifying and in the race with our Ford has been really encouraging. You can sometimes wedge yourself up there and stay there, but when you have speed and you have legitimate speed, it makes for a little bit of an easier day and easier to get those runs and get people to work with you and not hang you out and feel like our cars have had really good speed at superspeedways. We qualified well at Talladega with a top 10 there and think we would have had a good shot at qualifying in the top 10 or 12 today, but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to do that, but I want to say fairly easy to pass, but it gets harder and harder. Track position is gonna be important at the end, so you just have to be patient at the beginning and see how this unfolds. The biggest question mark is just this new package in particular. The last time we were here with a lot less downforce, a lot less motor. Now the package is different and the cars are gonna race and draft different, so it’s just adjusting really quickly in the race.”

American Muscle

HOW DIFFERENT IS IT WITHOUT THE PLATE? “You can tell, but it still feels like Daytona. It still feels normal. I think the throttle is the same, it’s just your suck up is a little bit better, you get a little bit bigger runs. The car is a little more sensitive in the air depending on positioning and so you just kind of learn as you go and you figure out where you car needs to be and you figure out what you need to do to successfully make passes and pull lanes and block runs.”

SO NOT DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT? “From a driver’s standpoint it’s pretty similar.”

SOME GUYS HAVE FOUND ANOTHER GEAR WHEN THEY COME HERE. CAN YOU PINPOINT WHY THAT IS? “I think it’s just an equalizer. I think that it just brings the field closer together and because the field is closer together I think it puts more in the driver’s hand from just positioning and strategic and the easiest way to say it is that the car is less of the determining factor. You go to a place like Chicago and if you’re a half-second off, you’re not gonna make it up. You’re not gonna put yourself in position on the last restart and snooker them and here everybody is so close and the draft is so effective that if you can get yourself in the right spot at the right time, you can make things happen here, where at other tracks it’s hard to overcome a lack of speed.”

HOW MUCH DOES HAVING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE HELP WITH THIS KIND OF RACING? “I think there’s a lot to it. You should ask Matt D. that question. I think I helped him too much, but I feel like if you come to the race track and you enjoy what you’re doing, and you love what you’re doing, and you’re excited about what you’re doing, you do a better job. I think that the drivers that don’t like coming here, they maybe don’t like the risk associated with it, but I think when it comes right down to it the guys that are good at it enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not gonna go for the gap and you’re not gonna make the block and you’re not gonna do all the things you have to do to win the race. I think here in particular the mental side of planning your race and how you’re gonna approach it is a big part of it and you’re not limited so much by the car, so I think having a good attitude is real important. It doesn’t keep you out of the wreck, though (laughing).”

ARE THE MANUFACTURER WARS OR ALLIANCES GOING TO BE AS STRONG TOMORROW AS WHAT WE SAW AT TALLADEGA? “I don’t know. I think what we saw in practice yesterday and what you saw in the race in Talladega it is everybody’s best interest to have friends and to have people to work with and that is definitely manufacturer-driven and related. I think it’s worked out for a few of these races, where you can actually keep that group together, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out and you get split up. We’ve seen that, whether it’s getting to pit road or a caution falls at a certain time or those green flag stops you have a little bit of an issue like we had at the 500, and you can get split up. So you always have a plan, but you’ve also got to be able to adjust quickly in the race if for some reason you get broken up or you lose touch with that group of your locked up and you miss pit road or you take four and everybody else took fuel only. There are so many things that have to go just right and it’s very interesting because we all need each other to make it work, but nobody wants to give up their race for somebody else, so there’s a balance of getting to the end and getting yourself in position and giving yourself a shot at winning the race, and I think to get to that point you need a lot of friends to do that and then at the end it gets hard because you don’t always get to line up bumper to bumper with your friends, your teammates or other manufacturer, so it is tricky but we see it more prevalent. I think Ford has set the standard of what it could look like if you all work together. Now everybody else is getting on board and trying to get organized and so we’ve got to be a step ahead all the time.”

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