Ford Performance NASCAR: Cindric Completes Kentucky Sweep

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES
FRIDAY, JULY 10, 2020
ALSCO 300 – KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY
FORD PERFORMANCE DRIVER – POST RACE QUOTES

CINDRIC COMPETES TWO-NIGHT KENTUCKY SWEEP

  • Austin Cindric finished off a two-night sweep as he dominated tonight’s race at Kentucky Speedway.
  • The win is Cindric’s second of the season.
  • Ford has now won 4 straight series races (2 each by Cindric and Chase Briscoe) and 5 of the last 6.
  • Ford has 7 NXS wins this season, most among manufacturers.
  • Ford’s hot streak has now seen it win 7 of the last 8 NCS and NXS races combined.
  • The win is Ford’s third straight series win at Kentucky and 10th overall.

FORD FINISHING RESULTS:
1st — Austin Cindric
2nd — Chase Briscoe


American Muscle

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 Snap-On Ford Mustang — VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW — MOST LAPS LED EVER IN ONE RACE AND YOU GOT TO DO A BURNOUT. HOW MUCH FUN WAS THAT? “I hope I laid enough rubber down to make up for Watkins Glen last year. That was pathetic. I’m just so excited. This is all a credit to my team. What we did tonight was really impressive because we ran one setup last night and won the race and came with another setup and won the race again, and that happens at the shop, that happens with the guys on the box. All credit to them. I’m the lucky one that gets to drive this Snap-On Ford Mustang. Thank you to MoneyLion, Menards, Discount Tire, everyone who puts this together — Odyssey Battery. Thank you to everyone — Ford Performance. A one-two between me and Chase. I got a text from Mark Rushbrook, the head guy from Ford telling me we need to have a one-two between me and Chase, so there you go, Mark. We’ll do it again. That was a lot of fun.”

WHAT WAS THAT MOMENT LIKE WHEN YOUR TEAM DECIDED TO PIT AT THE LAST MINUTE? “I trust my man. It’s difficult, but it’s a team sport and that’’s why. Obviously, he made the right call and that’s why he’s sitting on the box and I’m steering the car.”

POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCES

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 98 Ford Performance Racing School Mustang — “I don’t know, I feel like this is by far my worst racetrack on the schedule and I can just never get my car to drive how I want it to drive. I don’t know if it’s just something that I’m doing. I feel like I keep trying everything and nothing seems to work, so I just have to do more homework on this place, but, overall, I didn’t feel like we were a fourth or second-place car either night and to be able to do that on literally, I feel like, our worst two nights of the year is something to keep our head high about. We’ll go on to Texas next week, which is kind of a sister track to this one. I feel like that’s probably my second-worst mile-and-a-half. It just seems like these high-groove mile-and-a-halves, where it’s kind of one lane, I kind of always struggle at, so we’ll just go on to next week. Hopefully, we kind of learn something from tonight and last night and be a little bit better.”

HOW NARROW WERE THE LANES TONIGHT AND WAS THE ONLY PREFERRED GROOVE IN THE PJ1? “Yeah, it was definitely wider than last night, but, still it’s just so narrow. It’s almost like you’re on a train track. You just can’t get out of it. You can’t pass really anybody. I think that’s why you see so much chaos on the restarts is just everybody knows that after that restart’s first lap you’re not gonna pass anybody until lap 25 or 30 of that run when guys’ cars start falling off. I don’t know if this place will age quicker or why it seems like no matter what they do with the PJ1 or anything it just always kind of struggles. I almost feel like it would be better off not having any PJ1 and just letting the bottom kind of be the dominant lane and letting more of the mechanical grip of the car come into play, instead of the PJ1 kind of being a crutch factor. It’s certainly hard to pass. I feel like the Trucks and the Cup cars are gonna be even harder to pass. The only advantage is they have a little more downforce, so they might be able to go to that bottom lane. It seems like today’s race definitely widened out more than yesterday’s, so hopefully the PJ1 will just continue to widen out throughout the weekend and get a little bit better.”

DID YOU THINK YOU HAD ANYTHING FOR HIM ON THE FINAL RESTART? “No. He was in a league of his own. It seems like Penske has always been really good here. Austin, I feel like this is by far his best oval track even going back to the ARCA stuff. This was where his one win came, so he’s just kind of got a knack for this place. I feel like there’s a lot more racetracks that have more options in lanes and are less grip, and that’s, I feel like, my personal bread and butter and same with our team, so we just have to get a little bit better. Luckily, Kentucky is behind us now and, like I said, Texas is a big one because it’s in the playoffs as well, but I’ve always felt I’ve run a little bit better at Texas just because you can kind of move your lane around a little bit more. The 22 car was definitely really good. Those guys got it figured out when they come here and we just have to get better as a team. Overall, I’m happy for Ford Performance to have literally two cars in the field and be leading the manufacturers’ championship and running one-two here tonight is just a testament to the quality of race cars and the whole equipment that we have.”

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 Snap-On Ford Mustang — “Obviously, an amazing weekend for us on this 22 team, getting Snap-On two victories. They’ve been a longtime team partner of Team Penske, so really happy to do that in their 100th year. It’s hard to describe the amount of preparation work that goes into making a weekend like this possible. I said it in my post-race interview. We started the weekend with one setup and we decided to try to learn something for the rest of the rest of the year and with the ability to win both races with two different setups is really impressive for my team, so I’m proud of that effort and proud to be part of it, proud to be driving such fast race cars and proud to give Ford Performance a one-two tonight.”

HOW DIFFERENT WAS THE SETUP AND WAS IT BETTER? “I think both had advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, with mile-and-a-half tracks being real important in the second round of our playoffs with Texas and Kansas, our next two races being Texas and Kansas and the question of having practice or not is looming very big for me in my opinion. Phoenix is the most important race of the year, but you’ve got to get there first. I feel like those are two really important steps other than Martinsville to get there, so deciding on what we want to run at those race tracks given those characteristics and where I feel our strengths need to be, that’s why we decided to change the game tonight and my man Brian, making the right calls and being able to unload close, that’s a total team effort.”

WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN SATISFIED WITH TONIGHT AFTER THOSE CHANGES? “I don’t think I ever leave the racetrack not satisfied not winning, so that means I usually leave the racetrack not very satisfied, but the last two nights have been incredibly satisfying. I expected to have the same speed in our car. It’s not the first time we’ve done this. We did the same thing at Homestead, just trying to learn as much as we can. That’s what these doubleheader weekends are all about, in my opinion, is learning and you’ve got to learn because if you’re not going forwards, you’re going backwards and winning races is great, but the championship is what we’ve got our eyes on.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE A WEIGHT HAS BEEN LIFTED OFF YOUR SHOULDERS THESE LAST TWO NIGHTS? “I think it’s great. I think it’s the first time in my NASCAR career that I’ve really been able to elevate myself from someone who needs to learn a lot to a championship contender. I’ve done that in other series that I’ve raced in, but the NASCAR level — at least at this level — I haven’t been able to do that until now. I felt like I’ve been able to come on strong at the end of the season each year. I think that’s been great. Obviously, we contended for the championship in the Truck Series. I felt like that was a bit of a lottery and we made it there and we had a great shot to try and beat Christopher Bell for the championship in Homestead. That was a really special moment for me in my career, but I haven’t been able to at least get back to that or get to where you can prove that you’re that guy every weekend, and I feel like the only guy in our series right now that’s been able to do that is Chase Briscoe. It’s been fun to watch for him being his friend, but as his competitor he starts getting a little further away in the distance and we’ve got to reel him back in a little bit, so it’s been great to have some sort of a friendly rivalry, but I think it goes back to having some really strong Ford Mustangs.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE THE FIRST DRIVER TO WIN RACES ON CONSECUTIVE NIGHTS AT THE SAME TRACK SINCE RICHARD PETTY IN 1971? “That’s a really cool stat. I didn’t know that. Richard Petty is obviously a legend in our sport and I think it’s a feather in the cap and something I want to set my sights on doing more. Winning races is why we show up to the racetrack and to be in any form of the same category as the King is pretty cool.”

HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO GET THESE WINS AND GAIN MOMENTUM? “It’s important. You get awarded playoff points for where you finish in the regular season standings and I’ve been very aware of that all year. I’ve said it this year and year’s prior that racking up playoff points is the most important thing I can do right now in the regular season. On top of that, it’s about being consistent and building fast race cars. We’ve checked a lot of boxes in that department and I’m excited about the next couple of weeks leading up to the playoffs.”

GRAGSON AND BURTON GOT INTO IT AFTER THE RACE. HOW DO YOU FEEL THE RELATIONSHIPS ARE WITH THE DRIVERS IN THE GARAGE? “It’s difficult because we’re in a series where guys are racing for so much. I feel like you hear Chase talk about it, you’ve heard Noah talk about it, I’m not super-vocal about it, but none of our futures are guaranteed, so we’re racing for a lot. That’s hard to describe. The same with somebody like Ross. He races extremely aggressive and I feel like people get aggravated. I’ve been aggravated by him before, but I think we’re all racing for a lot and on a track like this, where it’s a one-groove racetrack, it takes 20 laps to pass somebody you have to risk a lot to pass somebody. It’s easy to put yourself in that type of situation. I have no idea what happened or why they’re upset with each other, but it’s not the first time or the second time this year I’ve heard of that happening. I can’t be in their shoes, but I think we can all learn from it. I think we can have a bit more of a brotherhood and embrace what makes each other so competitive — maybe a Kumbaya, but maybe I’m not that guy to do it — but I feel like right now that’s a bit of a necessity for us right now for our series in particular.”

DOES THIS ALLOW YOU AND THE TEAM TO TRY SOME DIFFERENT THINGS LEADING UP TO THE PLAYOFFS? “I feel like that’s what we did tonight. You’ve got to be aggressive, especially in the regular season. This is our only time to learn before the playoffs, so to answer that question we already have been. I feel I’ve been aggressive in the race car since the drop of the green flag every single week and that’s created a 90 percent opportunity, 10 percent the opposite, but on the flip side of that I’ve been able to learn a lot in a short amount of time and the same with my team with our race cars. I think that’s critically important.”

DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE A NASCAR DRIVER OR DID YOU ALREADY FEEL THAT WAY? “I personally have always felt that way. I feel like in a lot of peoples’ minds and maybe some of the fans’ minds this probably solidifies myself in a sport that races mostly in circles you’ve got to be good at racing in circles. You’ve got to put numbers on the board and that’s what we’ve done this weekend. I feel like yesterday was probably validation in that aspect for myself and today was all about my team. It’s so unbelievable that car has been able to be that fast and that close and be able to execute that well from pit road to unload to everything that we do throughout the week is so well structured that I’m just so proud to be the driver of that car. It’s a team that has been built around me and that’s something I’m proud of and something I’m very grateful for. A lot of drivers don’t get that opportunity and I feel like I’ve taken advantage of it in every facet to be positioning myself in this spot. That’s a credit to the leadership at the team and everybody that works hard at Team Penske.”

DO YOU FEEL WITH WHAT YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED THIS SEASON THAT YOU AND CHASE ARE IN POSITION TO BATTLE WEEK TO WEEK WITH THEM ALL THE WAY TO THE END? “Yeah, I definitely think so and I’d honestly love nothing more than that. He and I have come up through the ranks together and have become good friends. I hope that doesn’t jeopardize the friendship, but, at the same time, he’s fighting for a lot and so am I. I’m excited for that to be a prospect, but I’m focused on my team. You’ve got to be selfish in this sport and to be able to win back-to-back and have him come up to me in Victory Lane as I’ve done for him in the past really solidifies that sort of competitive relationship and I really enjoy it. That’s what this series need and I feel like that’s what makes racing a lot of fun.”

WHAT KIND OF STATEMENT DID YOU FIVE THE XFINITY GARAGE WITH YOUR PERFORMANCE THIS WEEK? “I felt like yesterday was my day and today was all about my team. I feel like that’s a double-down in a lot of ways as far as solidifying my place, as far as solidifying my team’s place within this garage area and it’s a great way to do it. It’s a track that I’ve obviously had success at in the past, so I can check that box in a familiar environment and move on to more racetracks. That’s my goal. I think it would be really cool to win on every type of racetrack this season. I feel that would be a personal victory as someone who has loved to try to be versatile in their career and that’s how you’re versatile in NASCAR. I love that about our schedule because every racetrack is so different. Even the subtle changes in the track surface and you can adapt your setups for it, you can adapt your driving for it and you can make a difference at tracks like this it’s just in the small details and I enjoy that challenge.”

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MOMENTUM? “I do believe in momentum. This is a great pep in the step for our team. We’ve got a long week now. My guys have Saturday and Sunday to cool off. The gap between Pocono and Indy was really short for our team, having to prepare two cars for Indy, two cars for this weekend on a limited shop schedule is difficult and I feel like it’s honestly more difficult for the bigger teams than it is for the smaller teams in that sense because my guys aren’t able to do a lot of the same things that they’ve been able to do in the past with a lot of restrictions because we have a lot of people working under the same roof. So I’m really proud of how they’ve handled that and it’s been a huge adjustment for me. I’m someone that spends a lot of time at the race shop and we’ve had to do a lot of team calls digitally and a lot of team prep work digitally and I’m proud of how we’ve adjusted. This gives my guys a little bit of time off to hug their loved ones and have a good weekend and be able to come back and pick up where we left off at Texas.”

BRIAN WILSON, Crew Chief, No. 22 Snap-On Ford Mustang — “That was another great day for us. We had a long debate overnight if we wanted to change anything. We decided that we wanted to use this opportunity to try to learn something to get better and I’d say that it was at least equal to yesterday, so it was a good day for us as far as trying to learn something. Without having practice, I feel like these doubleheaders are a great opportunity to try to learn something. We brought something a little bit different and it ended up being a really good day. Obviously, Austin had some speed early on, had to go through some restarts at the end again. I thought he did a great job there with the 8 car, racing him, and, overall, a great day.”

HOW MUCH DID YOU CHANGE IN THE SETUP AND DID YOU EXPECT TO HAVE A 10-SECOND LEAD IN THIS RACE? “Yeah, I don’t think you ever expect to have a 10-second lead and I think a lot of that was just the way the circumstances played out. With the way the green flag pit cycle worked out there I know the 8 car had a slower stop, so I think that was part of why we had such a big lead, but, no, it wasn’t a huge change. I know Austin has talked about it, I’ve talked about it, we brought in a new engineer this year and it was one of the ideas that he had — a subtle tweak to something that we had been doing. He has really been pushing us to give it a try, so we felt like it was a good time to do it, but it was a very small change — something that we felt like was gonna finish the corner and turn the center a little bit better and it ended up connecting the ends really well for us, so it was a good change.”

WOULD YOU HAVE MADE THAT CHANGE IF YOU HAD NOT WON LAST NIGHT? “We had that same mentality at Homestead. We feel like these doubleheader weekends are a great opportunity to try something back-to-back. It’s about the best read you’re going to get. We’ve tried to use these weekends to learn something. We came into it, we had a laundry list of things that we could try overnight that might have moved the needle for us, but we just settled on that one based on what the handling was yesterday.”

WHAT KIND OF STATEMENT DO THESE TO WINS MAKE? “I don’t know if it makes a statement in the garage. I feel like coming into this year everybody felt we like we would be one of the guys that was contending. I don’t know if this makes any kind of a statement about who is gonna definitely be at Phoenix. There is a lot of season left and a lot of strong teams. That’s the thing in this series is you’ve got probably 10 really strong teams that anyone can hit on something at any point to close the gap to anybody. I don’t know if it sends that statement, but within our team it shows that we can do it. This group can win races. We can compete with the best guys out there, so I think it just gives us confidence internally.”

THOUGHTS ON THE DAYTONA ROAD COURSE BEING ADDED TO THE SCHEDULE? “I think it’s gonna be interesting. It sounds like we may have traded a couple other road courses that we’ve won at previously to add that one, so I always like going places that I’ve got a notebook, but I feel like with Austin having made laps around there before it should be a place that we can get up to speed pretty quickly and then we can lean on the other guys in Team Penske at our shop. We’ve already started some conversations with those guys to understand what the differences are between that road course and other road courses that we run on. I’m excited about it. I think it’ll put on a good show. I know Austin is really excited about it, so that makes me even more excited.”

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

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