Ford Performance NASCAR: Team Penske Media Day (Logano and Cindric)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series
Team Penske Media Day | Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Team Penske held a media day session via Zoom with all of their NASCAR Cup drivers and crew chiefs for the 2021 season. Transcripts from each of those sessions follows:

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 33 Verizon Ford Mustang (Cup) and No. 22 Verizon Ford Mustang (NXS) – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR SPONSOR NEWS TODAY? “It’s really exciting for me to be a part of Verizon coming back on a race car in Team Penske in NASCAR. That’s really cool for me because I grew up watching Will Power and Juan and Helio and those guys represent Verizon on the Indy Car side for a long time and for me to be driving a Verizon Team Penske race car is pretty cool. Obviously, the main challenge right now is to try and get ourselves into the race, being an open car, and from there have some fun with it. It’s pretty cool news. The car looks great. I think it’s gotten a lot of great response from the fans. Verizon is a company that everyone uses in their daily lives, including myself, so it’s pretty cool to be starting out that way in Cup with such a recognizable brand.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – HOW AS THE DAYTONA 500 CHANGED SINCE YOU WON IN 2015? It’s been unpredictable every year no matter what’s going on. Probably the one thing you can predict is that the end of the race is just gonna be crazy. It is the biggest race of the year. It’s the Great American Race and the only race that you would argue is bigger than that is the championship race and that’s only for four cars. This is the biggest race or 40 cars out there, so everyone is out there racing extremely hard, especially towards the end of the race. The pushing and shoving becomes very aggressive, which that has been consistent over the years, but as the rules package changes – especially with this new spoiler on the back of it – we’ve seen over the last couple of years the shoving has become really aggressive and the blocks have been harder to pull off successfully as the runs are bigger. That’s all kind of a recipe for disaster at the end of these things, so the key is to be up towards the front when it matters the most. You try to collect points while you can during the stages. I mean, it’s not just checkers or wreckers the whole race, but at the end of the race it’s kind of like the championship – no one remembers who finishes second. No one know who finished second in the Daytona 500 last year. I don’t know, and that’s just what this race is about.”

WE SAW HUDSON RUN SOME DIRT LAPS RECENTLY. MIGHT WE SEE HIM DO SOME ORGANIZED RACING IN THE FUTURE? “He’s only three (laughing). It’s up to him. I don’t want to push it on him. I think being a second-generation racer definitely adds some pressure to a young kid wanting to race for fun. So I want to balance that and make sure that it’s fun for him and something that he wants to do and not because he feels like that’s something he’s supposed to do because dad does that. But I will say he enjoys it a lot. Every minute I’m home he wants to go drive his power wheels or his go-kart. He’s got this little electric bike and he’s a maniac. It’s actually been kind of fun to watch him grow. Of course, I enjoy it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t, but I don’t want to push it on him, either. If he says, ‘Daddy, I want to race.’ Then we’ll go racing. But if he wants to play baseball or something, I think an organized sport is important for a kid just for growth, but whatever he wants to do, we’ll do.”

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – WHAT RACES WILL VERIZON BE ON THE CAR AND WHAT WILL THE REST OF YOUR CUP SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE? “Both races for the Daytona 500 weekend, so it’ll be on my Cup car – the 33 car – and my XFINITY car – the 22 car – for the whole weekend. I’ll be wearing Verizon firesuits and shirts and hats all weekend and trying to do the best we can. As far as further races, to be determined. To this date I still don’t know the full schedule yet. We’re trying to shoot for doing a variety. That’s what I would like. That’s what I think would be the most beneficial heading into 2022, whether that’s short tracks, road courses, obviously the superspeedway with Daytona and mile-and-a-half tracks. So, just trying to absorb as much as I can and learn what I don’t know and hopefully build upon it.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – WHEN NEW SAFETY INITIATIVES COME ABOUT DO YOU DO ANY RESEARCH OR DO YOU JUST DO WHAT YOUR TEAM OR THE EXPERTS TELL YOU? “A little bit of both. You have to put some trust into the professionals that study it every day. It’s kind of like your race car driver telling the crew chief how to set up the car. I’m not in every aero meeting. I’m not in every vehicle dynamics meeting to tell them what’s right and what’s wrong. I can help guide and help steer the ship and that’s what my job is. The same thing when it comes to safety. It’s my life on the line. It’s no one else’s life but the driver that’s in there, so it is your responsibility to make sure your stuff is right – your helmet, your HANS, your belts, your seats and have an idea on that. I would say Team Penske has some really good guys that do a very good job at the safety perspective of our cars. I can’t say that’s the same for every race team, so as a driver you need to be aware of what’s going on. I do feel like I do trust NASCAR and Team Penske to make those right decisions because some of them are a bit over my head. I’m not there at the sled tests where they make a lot of these decisions on what’s better and what’s not, but I’m always open to trying something. If it’s safer, bolt it in. I’ll take it.”

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – WHAT IS YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL AND WHAT WILL BE THE KEY TO HAVING THE SAME SUCCESS IN NXS? “Obviously, my main focus is having more success in the XFINITY Series, trying to go for another championship. As far as what my goals are for the year and how do I achieve that, I think you always as a race car driver, whether you have a good year, a bad year or the best year, you have to continue to better yourself whatever that level is because everyone else around you is gonna keep stepping that up, so I’ve worked very hard this offseason, whether that’s physically or trying to get myself organized. I have some great opportunities to run some Cup races and get a taste for what it means to race against the best because ultimately that’s what I want to be one day is race against the best and the best of the best. So, it’s a unique opportunity for me to kind of have the scope of what the long-term plan looks like and apply that to the short term and take what I learn from my Cup races this year and apply them to the XFINITY races. I think Saturdays had some really great shows last year and I think there’s more cars in the field this year than last that are capable of winning races, so another reason to continually step up your game. I’m excited for that challenge as always and looking forward to the year getting started. Talking to everyone, I had a meeting at Roush Yates today telling me how to work an EFI car and had a meeting yesterday about drafting with Fords at Daytona. It’s starting to get stirred up. It feels nice. I’m ready to get going.”

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THROWN INTO THE FIRE OF THE QUALIFYING RACES AT DAYTONA AGAINST GUYS LIKE TY DILLON, DAVID RAGAN, AND NOAH GRAGSON? “Yeah. You can add Ryan Preece into that as well. He’s running a full season in an open entry, so I started thinking about it and start thinking about all the scenarios and you start feeling a little anxious and nervous. Even when this was coming together, just knowing the format and knowing how many open cars there are this year, it’s gonna be a challenge. I’d be lying if I said we wouldn’t have as good a shot as any to qualify our way in on speed, but you can’t count on that. I’ve put a lot of prep work already into understanding the Duels and understanding the format. They take one car out of each Duel, so that’s a very small window. That’s where all my focus is right now. I think it’s a bonus if we get into the race and I think everyone understands that. I think everyone respects that, including our sponsors, so we’ll go forward and try to put our best effort in. It’s gonna happen really fast, though. Looking at the weekend schedule on Wednesday I have to figure out how to drive a Cup car and how to qualify in the Daytona 500 in a day, so it won’t be easy but I’m looking forward to it.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – THIS WILL BE YOUR NINTH SEASON AS TEAMMATES WITH BRAD. HOW HAS THAT RELATIONSHIP EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS AND HELPED IN BRINGING OUT SUCCESS FOR BOTH TEAMS? “I think Brad and I have had a good relationship, a healthy teammate relationship is what I’d call it, where we can be open with each other. Just like any other teammates you have more in common than any other competitor. We know what’s going on inside the company. We can actually talk about it to each other. We can’t talk about things to other competitors. We truly push each other. Brad’s a very talented race car driver and our strengths are in different areas, and that’s something I like about it. I could be stronger in certain areas and Brad is stronger in other areas and we can look at each other’s data and say, ‘You’re doing this here and you’re doing this here,’ and you can kind of figure it out over time. I know I’ve adjusted my driving style a lot since I started here at Team Penske at certain racetracks and I assume Brad would probably say the same, and that’s a healthy relationship, in my opinion. Off the track, like I said, he’s a friend of mine. We call and talk to each other and a lot of times it’s not even about racing. Like I said, we have a lot in common – the lifestyle, having a couple kids, traveling around. There are a lot of things in common there, so, like I said, it’s a healthy teammate relationship where we push each other and race each other out front and race each other for wins. That becomes a fun little battle.”

WHEN YOU SAY YOU’VE CHANGED YOUR DRIVING STYLE IS THAT IN THE SENSE OF INFORMATION AT LEAST IN PART THAT BRAD HAS SHARED WITH YOU? “Yeah. Anytime you’re not the best, you have to be a student of the sport. When you have an open notebook of what Brad’s doing at some of his best racetracks like a New Hampshire or a Richmond – short tracks in particular probably stand out the most – you have the data right there to look at. You’re an idiot if you don’t look at it, so I have the ability to look and ask questions and I try to guide myself in the right direction to try to adapt to that. If you’re getting beat, you’ve got to look at something different and that’s the best part about the relationship in general is we’re able to push each other in those ways to get better as race car drivers and ultimately as a team.”

YOU DON’T HAVE A BACKGROUND IN DIRT TRACK RACING. WILL YOU DO ANY PREP GOING INTO BRISTOL? HOW WILL YOU APPROACH THAT WEEKEND? “You’re right, I don’t have much background at all. I better start figuring it out (laughing) one way or another. I’ve got some plans to get out on a dirt track a little bit and just try to understand how the track changes. I think that’s probably the biggest thing. Obviously, the car is gonna drive different and it being very slick and all that, but understanding how the dirt moves, whether there’s a cushion or when it dries out or when it rubbers up, there’s all this lingo that I don’t really know a whole bunch about and you have to see it and you have experience it, I think, to understand that. I’ve got some plans to try to get out on a track a little bit and play around in different types of cars just to understand dirt racing a little bit. We’ll see what happens. There are so many unknowns with Bristol. You throw dirt on that place we don’t know what’s gonna happen and nobody does, but if I can be as somewhat educated on what the track looks like and where the grip is, maybe I can be close in the ballpark somewhere.”

YOU GO INTO EVERY RACE THINKING YOU GUYS CAN WIN. IS THAT A DIFFERENT MINDSET GOING INTO THIS RACE? “No. I can win it. I 100 percent think that. Why else would I show up if I think I can’t win a race. I might as well stay home. That’s no fun at all. I think we have a chance to win it. You never know what’s gonna happen. You watch the Eldora race and a lot of times the fastest car doesn’t win that thing in the trucks. The same thing can happen at Bristol. It’s 250 laps. That’s 500 corners, 500 chances for someone to screw up. Survival will be the number one thing in that race is try to have something to race with at the end. Over the course of that many laps you’re probably gonna keep getting better and better and have a shot at the end of it.”

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE XFINITY SERIES THIS YEAR AND WILL YOU EMBRACE HAVING A TARGET ON YOUR BACK? “I guess I haven’t considered that, but as far as competitors the two obvious ones – I hope I’m not forgetting anyone – would be Daniel Hemric racing for Gibbs and AJ Allmendinger a full season with Kaulig. Those are two exciting opportunities for the series to see what those guys can do for a whole year, so as a competitor you’ve got to definitely embrace that because I think they’re gonna bring a lot to the table. It’ll be fun to race with those guys every weekend. As far as having a target on my back, I haven’t really considered that. Me mentally doesn’t really change a whole lot, but I think as I’ve gone through NASCAR I’ve really had somebody look for every year, whether if it was in trucks you’d get out and immediately look to see where Christopher Bell was on the time sheet and to see how fast he was, see how his long run looked. Years prior there was the big three with Custer, Reddick and Bell and you’d get out of your car and see what their 10-lap average looks like. I feel like we have a great opportunity, as we did last year, to be that guy or one of those guys, not that that’s ever my goal, but that mean’s you’re winning races, you’re bringing fast race cars to the racetrack. That means you’re a really strong team and our team on the 22 car is relatively unchanged, so I expect us to have just as much strength and hopefully continue to build on what we had last year.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – HOW MUCH WOULD YOU ENJOY GIVING SHELL/PENNZOIL ITS 100TH WIN? “Obviously, I would love that. It goes to show, we talked about PPG on here earlier with the amount of time at Team Penske is incredible. One hundred victories as a primary sponsor at Team Penske would be a great accomplishment, but just like any other milestone victory it’s not about the 100th win, it’s about everything that got to that point. Those are the moments you wish that everybody was there in victory lane with you – that drove the car and worked on the car and all that because it’s not just the amount of effort and work that this 22 team has done for Shell and those stats. It’s what countless others have done and also just how Team Penske has gotten to this level in the Cup department as well has gotten to this level is a lot. It’s hard to say you’ll take credit for it. Yeah, I want to be the guy that can cross the start-finish line and do that driving the Shell car. That’s what we want to do, but it would be hard for me to take credit for more than what’s really there for me.”

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO MAKE CONFIDENT MOVES AT DAYTONA OR WERE YOU BORN WITH IT? “I don’t think you’re born with it. It’s experience. Experience and making mistakes and learning from them and having a little bit of a resume behind you to prove that, ‘hey, I do know how to do it.’ Yeah, confidence in sports is everything. It’s absolutely everything to get to that point, and you can’t fake it. Yeah, you can try to train your mind to get to a certain point, but it’s got to be real. You can’t lie to yourself. Eventually, you’re gonna figure out you’re lying to yourself, so it’s really just going on there, repetitions, understanding it, having some trophies behind you, but even with that said your confidence will go up and down over time. When things are going well, that’s what momentum is. Momentum in sports is just confidence. When things are going right, you feel like you can’t do anything wrong. You just keep going out there and winning and winning and winning. Those happen. And then there are moments you get in slumps. I think of last year even for us in the 22 car through the summer months Paul and I struggled a lot, and quite honestly was lost. Yeah, your confidence takes a bit of a toll, but having the trophies behind you saying I know how to do this, knowing you will get out of a slump and will be stronger because of it does help keep your confidence up. As a younger driver or someone coming in, I went through that as well where I got my butt kicked and came in very confident thinking I was gonna be the man and then quickly realized I was not even the boy, I was in trouble and being able to kind of overcome that has really helped me a lot now. I’m glad I’ve gone through that. Those are the experiences that I absolutely love that I had because it’s made me into who I am today, but in the moment it’s hard. It’s not fun, but it makes you stronger for sure.”

AUSTIN CINDRIC CONTINUED – WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? “Everyone’s development as a driver is definitely different. I’m in a position that next season I’ll be moving up and racing against the best drivers, so I think having Joey as a teammate is a great resource because those things he just talked about are very real. I went through some of them starting out in NASCAR. I started with very little experience and I think everyone has seen the progression, but there is definitely some more difficult days than great days, that’s for sure. It’s part of sports, but I think listening to Joey talk to is that when you get out of that slump or have something that you finally figure out and get confidence in, you’re better than what you were before. You should be afraid of someone who is a great driver, has a slump and then comes out of it because they came out of it a better driver, a better competitor. I enjoy watching that in sports. I’ve loved watching football this year because you can make so many parallels between sports, just the mentality, so it’s challenging. That’s why it’s not easy otherwise everyone would be doing it and doing well.”

HOW INTEGRAL WILL YOU BE WITH THE CUP SERIES RACE GOING TO THE INDY ROAD COURSE WITH YOUR PAST EXPERIENCE? “I think having any sort of data is important. It’ll be a race weekend where we have practice in all series, so it’ll be important for the Cup guys to look back at some of the things that we’ve learned based off of racetracks that they’re familiar with, so, yeah, it definitely helps. It helps Joe Gibbs Racing, too. It helps RCR. It helps any other team that has an affiliated car from the XFINITY Series, so I wouldn’t say we have an upper hand by any means, but obviously I’m a resource just like Brian is a resource to those guys. Winning at Indianapolis driving for Roger Penske means a whole lot, so to be able to do that and be as well prepared as we can as a team is definitely important.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – YOU HAVE PRACTICE THAT WEEKEND AT INDY, BUT DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A BIT OF AN ADVANTAGE WITH DATA FROM LAST YEAR’S XFINITY RACE? “I think what Austin said is right. Other teams have run the race as well, but Austin is gonna be my guy. We call each other a lot. I remember his first year in XFINITY he’d call me maybe every race going into the weekend and then I think running the Daytona Road Course last year with no practice and who do I have to talk to? Cindric, and so he was able to repay me the favor at least and I was able to ask him a lot questions. I’m sure as we get closer to Indy and we start to wrap our heads around it, keep you phone near you, Austin. I’ll be calling.”

AS A DRIVER WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN TERMS OF THE SCHEDULE OR WHAT WILL HAVE THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON HOW THE SEASON UNFOLDS? “That’s a hard question to answer. There are so many new things. I’m sitting here at the Ford R&D Center. I was just on the simulator and working on some things and I was driving and thinking, ‘How cool is this that I get to drive so many different things.’ I always thought that Cup was one of the only series that goes to so many different tracks, the short tracks, the superspeedways, the mile-and-a-halves, the road courses. But now there are just more and more tracks, more road courses, tracks I’ve never been to, dirt racing. I have no experience at all. It’s kind of cool that I get to do that, so as a race car driver that’s attractive because you want to be able to do different things. You want to be a well-rounded race car driver, somebody that can jump into anything and go fast. That’s something I would take a lot of pride in, and I don’t have the opportunity typically to drive anything outside of a NASCAR Cup car, so this is a fun opportunity as a race car driver, and I think even as a team everyone working together to try to understand these new racetracks coming ahead of us. It’s hard for me to pinpoint and actually answer your question about which one is gonna impact the season the most. Everyone is talking about the dirt race. Every time I get in my truck and turn on SiriusXM all I hear is people talking about this dirt race. I’m like, ‘You know there are other races that are gonna happen this year. It’s not just this dirt race.’ So trying to balance that and not put too much effort into one race and forgetting about all the other ones that also pay out. It’s hard for me to pinpoint which one that is. COTA sounds exciting, that’s a new one. The Indy Road Course, I think, is gonna be a great addition to the schedule, so I’m really excited about that one. And, yeah, I’m interested at Bristol. I don’t know if I’m excited about it, but I’m interested to see how that’s gonna go, probably like everybody else that’s on this call.”

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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