Ford Performance NASCAR: Matt Tifft Pocono Media Session

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Saturday, July 27, 2019

EVENT: Gander RV 400 Media Availability

MATT TIFFT, No. 36 Surface Sunscreen Ford Mustang – HOW DO THE XFINITY AND CUP CARS DIFFER THEMSELVES FROM JUNE TO NOW? “I haven’t been in an XFINITY car since last year, so those cars tend to handle fairly differently than our cars do now just because of the high downforce package, so our corner speeds are a lot higher than what the XFINITY cars are, but I’m kind of interested to see this weekend because they applied the PJ1 here this weekend, so I’m hoping for our race that’s gonna allow for some more passing. Passing was definitely difficult in June, so I’m hoping that’s gonna open up some opportunities for us to get in some different lanes and try out some different stuff. We haven’t completely seen it yet because nobody has really been in it, but come Sunday and the Truck race I hope that’s a different story.”

American Muscle

AS THE RACE GOES ON DO YOU THINK IT WILL WORK IN? “I definitely think you’ll see somebody try, especially on restarts we’ll fan out so much that we’ll get in there, and it seems like the more people that run in it, the more the application starts to get more and more grippy as heat gets in it. So it’s hard to get in it right now. I didn’t feel much of a difference, but once the rubber gets laid down in it, that’s when it starts to actually make a decent difference for us to go up and try it.”

ARE YOU LIFTING MORE NOW THAN IN JUNE? “Yeah, I thought that was interesting too. I figured we would be more in the throttle because of that stuff being here, but I think what’s happened is our speeds are a little bit higher than they were in June as far a lap time, at least for our group, and our corner speed being able to get back to throttle – whether that’s our cars being better or the track being a little bit more grippy, it’s a lot of securing more speed into the corner, so I think that’s making us have to roll out of the gas a little bit more when it gets to the other end.”

DOES THE HEAT OUTSIDE PLAY A FACTOR? “I think it is. It seems like guys are fighting for grip. Obviously, there have been a couple of crashes already, so I think the track is not as forgiving as it seemed like it was here in June, being overcast and cloudy and stuff, but it definitely has a lot of speed in it. I think that’s an interesting mix between the two and obviously the teams, this is one of the first times we’ve come back to a track for a second time, so this is really a first to see how a team has progressed from the first time around here, but Pocono is always kind of a different deal in itself because of the unique shape of the track.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PJ1 IN GENERAL? “I think at times, if it provides for a better show and better passing opportunities, I think that’s great. The problem is right now it’s kind of in a weird spot, where it’s a little bit too high for us to run in, so I wish it was a little bit closer to what the racing groove would be, so we could just move up a little bit and start really getting into it. It’s kind of in an awkward place to be able to directly commit into it, so I think it’s gonna take awhile for some restarts in the Truck race for it to start to come in, so we’ll all be watching that. The idea is to make it a more exciting show for the fans and provide more passing opportunities for us, which I’m definitely for.”

HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY TIRE FALL OFF OR TIRE WEAR WITH THIS PACKAGE? “No, not really. This race kind of lends itself to being more on the strategy side of who stays out, who puts on two tires and tries to play the track position game. We saw that was big here in the spring, but there’s not much tire fall off. The tires are fairly hard, so it’s not like you’re having a Chicago-type of deal, where you’re wanting four tires all the time. I’m sure with the heat on Sunday you’re gonna want tires throughout different points, but I don’t think it’s crucial to always have four. I think you’ll see a lot of guys take two tires.”

YOU HAD A CREW CHANGE THIS WEEK WITH THE 38. YOUR THOUGHTS. “I think, overall, as a whole at Front Row I feel like each team has had moments of really good runs in there and if you look at the 34 I feel like lately they’ve been the best group, so the idea kind of internally from the team and from Front Row was, ‘hey, we’ve got people we feel like here are really great pieces and we’ve had some good runs and maybe let’s try to see for the rest of the season if these are good chemistry fits to help out everybody.’ So far I feel like it’s been positive. It’s always a little bit different coming into a weekend working with a brand new group in there even though it’s under the Front Row banner, so at least we’re familiar with the cars and things, but learning that dialogue was kind of the first goal of first practice here. I feel like we’ve gotten that in and hopefully here in final practice we can really tune to where we need to be and get going where we need to be tomorrow. I think the whole idea is to try to keep on getting better throughout the rest of the season and hopefully that provides an opportunity to do that.”

EVEN THOUGH THIS IS THE SECOND TIME HERE IT’S YOUR FIRST WITH THIS CREW, SO HOW DIFFERENT IS IT? “I think right off the truck we had better speed and were at least closer than we were here in the spring. We were positioned fairly well in the spring to probably get a top 20 finish out of it and had a transmission failure on a restart, so I think we looked at this race as being one of those that we probably didn’t execute as a team because of a failure in there, but unloading so far I feel like we’ve been closer on speed. We’re not where we need to be yet, but I feel like we’re getting turn three dialed in and we’re getting pretty close to where we need to be.”

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING DURING PRACTICE WITH TWO CARS HITTING THE WALL PRETTY HARD? “It was definitely hairy the first couple of runs because it feels like we’re going faster. I don’t know if it’s because it’s slicker or whatever it is out there, but it seems like the cars had a tougher time getting through the bumps. You’re definitely trying to push everything you can because if you’re too conservative in practice it’s hard to go get that extra little bit in the race, so we’re trying to push those things. This is a track we’re coming back to for the second time, which is really the first one we have for the season, so everybody has a different idea of what they learned from the first time here and they’re trying to execute those things in practice. People say, ‘hey, maybe I can get a little bit more throttle here,’ and you start to get a little greedy sometimes, so it’s definitely a balance.”

AS A YOUNG DRIVER WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THOSE WRECKS? “I think you’ve just got to look at what happened there. You saw the 42 get pretty upset over the bumps. You’ve got to make sure, ‘Ok, is my car getting upset through there?’ I spun in a very similar spot here back in June, so you’ve got to do a good job of, ‘Ok, is my car getting through here in the right way? Can I pull down and make a move on a restart?’ You’ve got to look at all those situations, so as a young guy you’ve kind of got to say, ‘Ok, am I in a good spot or am I already on the verge of losing it to where this might be bad in the race?’ You’ve just got to think about that.”

WAS THAT A LESSON LEARNED WHEN YOU SPUN LAST TIME? “Possibly. I felt like that was a little different in scenario because we were three-wide on a restart and I was trying to be aggressive, so it was a little bit different spot because we were trying to gain spots on a restart, rather than just a single-car run in practice. But the same theory applies. You’ve got to get through the bumps either way.”

WHAT ABOUT THE RACE? “It’s gonna be interesting to see. I’m curious to watch the Truck race today because the PJ1 has been talked about so much, but nobody has really run in it that much yet. I want to see what will happen, if the guys on restarts will start fanning out to use that PJ1. In June it was hard to pass, so I’m hoping that provides some more passing opportunities, otherwise, strategy and track position is gonna be big again. It’s always gonna be here, but I’m hoping we can get that other lane to get a little bit more side-by-side racing. That would be great.”

YOU HAD A CREW CHANGE THIS WEEK. “We did. We’re trying to look internally at Front Row of how we can get better. We felt like we had some great runs on the 38 and the 36 teams, but felt like we wanted to do whatever we could internally to try to improve chemistry and build on what we could do the rest of this 2019 season. We felt like that the pieces we had were strong pieces and tried to see if this was a better fit for me over with Seth, so it’s been great so far. Obviously, first practice here is just kind of learning the group, but the whole concept is to try to make the team as a whole better and improve our point standing and our finishes more consistently.”

WAS IT THE WHOLE TEAM THAT CHANGED? “Yeah. It was interesting because I was walking into the hauler and it still says the 38 hauler on it. They wanted to stay with their equipment and stuff, so even just that part of it and making sure I don’t walk into the wrong hauler was checkbox one for the weekend. I’m sure I’ll have to keep looking at that, but even just the little things. Our digital dashes. Certain teams do things differently, so we’re trying to figure out if I could adapt and use their digital dash for our pit road speeds. I would have gotten caught speeding three times in our run we did, so you’ve just got to change it to what’s more comfortable for me and what works for the team, too. So we kind of met in middle ground and ran it again and everything felt good in there, so it’s the little things you don’t really think about that can get yourself in trouble, so you want to make sure you check those boxes during a practice.”

IT COULD MAKE THINGS BETTER OR THROW THINGS OFF AS WELL, RIGHT? “Yeah, but I think the ultimate goal is you go through the weekend and you have a smooth weekend and try to execute everything as well as you can and the goal is to try and build on things to get better week to week, and I think you have to start with those wildcard things – take care of those first and then things kind of go in a more smooth process, just like they would at the beginning of the season once you get through a few weeks.”

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