Daytona 500 Media Day (Austin Cindric)

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang Dark Horse – YOU’RE BACK HERE TRYING TO WIN THE RACE FOR A SECOND TIME. DOES THAT COME WITH ANY LESS PRESSURE KNOWING THAT YOU’VE WON IT BEFORE OR IS IT MORE PRESSURE BECAUSE YOU’RE TRYING TO WIN IT A SECOND TIME? “Compare and contrast the two opportunities, the first time coming here as a rookie to now. I think a win here is a different challenge. There are a lot more knowns and unknowns as far as with the car and where the series is at. I think it’s a different challenge each time you come, but especially now compared to the first NextGen car.” 

WITH RYAN’S CHAMPIONSHIP, I MEAN EVEN GOING BACK A LITTLE FURTHER, JOSEPH WINNING THE INDY 500, THE ROLEX IN JANUARY, THIS WHOLE PENSKE ORGANIZATION IS ON A ROLL. DO YOU GUYS FEEL THAT CONFIDENCE GOING INTO 500 WEEK? “Well, as far as comparing confidence bleeding over from some of our other programs, it’s great. But at the same time, I feel like it’s so much of the expectation within the building to be able to do that, it’s kind of a disappointment to not. The Rolex in January was really cool for those guys. I watched pretty much every televised minute of that race. But yeah, certainly the goals are all still the same.” 

I SAW THE HELMET, THE GIL DE FERRAN TRIBUTE HELMET, WHAT ARE YOUR EARLIEST MEMORIES OF HIM? AND YOU MENTIONED HOW IMPACTFUL HE HAD BEEN FOR YOU. “As far as Gil goes, my earliest memories in racing, Gil was part of that. So yeah, it’s certainly an opportunity for me to kind of reflect on not just my relationship with him, but kind of who I am as a person and why I love racing. And it’s from being around people like that. I had a special experience as a kid because I got to know that guy inside of the car and outside of the car from a pretty young age. So, yeah, very impactful for me and very proud that I’m able to honor him this weekend with the helmet.”

WHAT ARE SOME OF THOSE LESSONS OR QUALITIES OR IF THERE’S ONE THAT YOU HAD TO PICK THAT REALLY STUCK WITH YOU FROM GETTING TO KNOW GIL? “It’s the person he is outside of the car. I mean, he’s accomplished everything you need to accomplish inside of an Indy car, but the person’s outside of the car. And I think, seeing over the last handful of weeks or the last month, how much he’s meant to so many other people just due to the fact that after his racing career, he did a lot to help a lot of other drivers, help a lot of other teams and organizations. On the personal side, you know, it’s not just necessarily my relationship with them, but my family. My dad and Gil were pretty close. It’s not just my relationship with Gil, but it’s also my family’s relationship with Gil’s family.”

MICHAEL MCDOWELL SAID HE WAS RELIEVED WHEN HE GOT THAT SECOND WIN BECAUSE HE WAS NO LONGER IN THAT SMALL FRATERNITY OF THREE DRIVERS THAT ARE LIKE ONE HIT WONDERS AT DAYTONA. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO TRY TO GET THAT NEXT WIN SO IT’S NOT JUST DAYTONA? “Ask me after I win. That’s it. That’s why I show up every week. It’s what you want to do. So I’ll let you know how it feels when I do it.”

QUESTION INAUDIBLE: “Yeah, quite a lot. Superspeedway racing is a lot more demanding as far as the decisions you make, not necessarily what you go through inside the car. As far as just from a communication standpoint with me and my team but also doing my part to understand whether if it’s scenarios I could have done differently in past races or recognizing things that I might not have been able to pick up on inside of the car just watching film, looking through data and so on. So those types of things that I would say challenged myself mentally beforehand.”

IS IT JUST LIKE IN THIS SITUATION WE WANT TO START INSIDE OR LIKE WHAT ARE SOME KIND OF SCENARIOS THAT YOU FIND HELPFUL TO THINK THROUGH AHEAD OF TIME? “I think you just look at things as far as things that went well. This guy succeeded in this scenario, why? And this guy failed in this scenario, why? And what are high percentage things that you can do to prevent or encourage some of those situations and where do you find yourself in the moment that you can affect that?” 

I GUESS THAT LEVEL OF PREP WORK TAKES SOME OF THE LUCK FACTOR OUT OF THIS RACE, NO? A TINY BIT?  “I think the luck factor is based off of the high probability of wrecks, incidents, being at the mercy of other guys mistakes. I don’t believe in luck in this style of racing. Certainly, it’s more based off of the environment around you, but you also have the opportunity to create the environment around you.”

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