Ford Performance NASCAR: Cindric Continues Daytona 500 Celebration at Champion’s Breakfast

Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang, continued to celebrate his Daytona 500 victory this morning at the annual Champion’s Breakfast at Daytona International Speedway.  He, along with Team Penske representatives spoke to members of the media about last night’s victory.


AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – HAS IT SUNK IN YET?  “Not in the slightest.  I think the gravity of what this race means to our sport, but also in the sports world and, really, to the people watching.  Next to the Super Bowl, it’s definitely the biggest event this month and to have a completely sellout crowd, and to just be part of a finish like that let alone win the race is pretty awesome.  I didn’t see the finish until way after the tech process was over.  I turned my phone back on, but pretty cool finish.”


WHAT DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT AFTER THE PRESS CONFERENCE?  “After the press conference I went to tech and hung out with the guys, made sure everything was good.  We all went to Steak ‘n Shake and closed the place down.  From there, God knows what the 2 team did.  They’re definitely the party team on the Team Penske lineup, but I got back to the hotel about 1 o’clock and went to the hot tub and hashed it out with my pops, and then stayed on my phone until probably 3:45 answering text messages.”


YOU DIDN’T WANT TO JOIN THE PARTY WITH YOUR TEAM?  “I’m not sure I can hang with that crowd.”


ANY OTHER THOUGHTS ABOUT HOW YOU RACED BLANEY?  “I have absolutely zero regrets.  I think that everybody behind me put themselves in position to win the race and I think I did the same and, obviously, it worked out quite well.  I’m just really proud of the effort, proud of the teamwork there, proud of the teamwork with Fords throughout the race, so I’ve got zero complaints and zero regrets.”


IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU GET THE CAR BACK AND IT WON’T RACE ANYMORE.  “We lost a lot of cars at Team Penske this week in more ways than one.  I guess this is the best-case scenario for that.”


ARE YOU GOING TO BUY IT?  “I don’t think it’s mine.  I don’t think there’s much I get to keep other than the trophy, but it certainly is a great experience.”


ANY IDEA WHAT RACE IT WILL GO TO NEXT?  “It’s not racing.  It’s going into a museum somewhere, I’m sure.”


HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH ALL THE MEDIA FOCUS THESE NEXT FEW DAYS?  “Yeah, usually I have a simulator session on Tuesday.  That was probably my first text message was to make sure that still was on because I still want to be prepared.  I still want to learn because I think the west coast swing is gonna be just like the Daytona 500.  It’s gonna be an information dump for teams and drivers and I think it’s gonna be a great showing to see who has done their homework in the offseason from a driver’s perspective and a team perspective and from an OEM perspective more specifically.  I think this is really the first time in our sport’s history that every OEM has been so close with one another as far as a Toyota is a Toyota, a Ford is a Ford and a Chevy is a Chevy.  The downforce capabilities of the car, obviously the horsepower with the engines, I think that’s gonna be really important for us to observe and be ready for.”


DO YOU FEEL THIS SEALS THE DEAL AS FAR AS DESERVING THE 2 CAR RIDE?  “You want to talk about an incredible way to start my chapter driving the 2 car.  I can’t tell you the last year the 2 car hasn’t won a race, but I definitely wanted to make sure that wasn’t gonna be my responsibility this year to miss out on that.  Obviously, that box is already checked.  Certainly an amazing experience and glad to start it off that way.”


WHAT DID YOU AND YOUR DAD TALK ABOUT LAST NIGHT?  “He and I obviously have a pretty unique relationship or maybe dynamic is a better word as far as his role within the team, but also his role as my father.  Honestly, I don’t think we’d seen each other for about a week before Saturday, so a lot of it was really just catching up.  Some of it I did ask his advice on what should I do over the next course of the week.  It’s not his first rodeo.  It’s not his first win as a Daytona 500 winner with Team Penske and he’s obviously been part of a lot of big wins, so kind of getting his advice and his perspective on what the next couple of days are gonna look like for me, but, otherwise, just catching up – talking about IndyCar stuff.  They have their test in Sebring.  I actually figured out that I will be able to watch the first IndyCar race of the year before the Fontana race starts, so excited for that, but just catching up and going over text messages we’ve received and talking to a few people over the phone.  It was definitely a cool experience to be able to cool down and reflect.”


YOU’RE A LITTLE SORE.  WAS THAT JUST FROM THE LONG RACE?  “I’m not gonna be mean and say the reason why I think my back is sore, but it happened on the grass on the front straightaway (laughing).  I’d say the most sore thing on me is my hand right now, wearing this ring.  I’ve got really boney fingers and my finger is swollen enough to where I can’t even get it off anymore, but all very good problems to have.”


IT WAS A WILD MOMENT WHEN JEREMY JUMPED IN YOUR ARMS.  “I’m a hugger.  COVID has kind of hurt the whole hugging thing.  That used to be my thing when I won races and I think I made up for that last night.”


WHO IS THE MOST PROMINENT OR SPECIAL TO YOU PERSON THAT YOU’VE HEARD FROM?  “I think getting a tweet from Mario Andretti is pretty cool.  He’s obviously the ultimate staple.   When I think of American motorsports and think of drivers and household names it’s him or A.J. Foyt, so to get a tweet from him is pretty awesome.”


FONTANA IS COMING UP, SO WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS CAR ON THAT TRACK?  “I’ve learned a lot in a small amount of time.  I think we’re constantly developing what our standard package is to go to those racetracks.  I think Fontana is probably gonna be one of the toughest ones we go to just because of the seams, the bumps, the camber changes in the road.  I feel like Vegas will probably be a more predictable race for us.  I think Fontana is definitely more of a wild card and I wouldn’t say doesn’t suit the car, but we haven’t raced there in two years and I’m sure it hasn’t gotten any gripier, and I’m sure the seams haven’t gotten any better, so I’m very curious to see what that’s like.  We have a very limited amount of practice, so look for a lot of comers and goers in the race, I think.”


DID YOUR PHONE SPAZ OUT WHEN YOU TURNED IT BACK ON LAST NIGHT?  “Yeah, so I usually leave my phone on airplane mode before the race starts so whoever’s got it, it isn’t exploding in their pocket.   I turned it off airplane mode just to do a quick Instagram story or whatever just to say something before I went and did everything else and I couldn’t even open the camera.  It was so backlogged with text messages and phone calls and just people trying to hear from me.”


TWO WEEKS AGO YOU’RE SITTING IN THE BACK OF A PICKUP TRUCK WITH CHASE BRISCOE EATING IN ‘N OUT BURGERS AND NOW YOU’RE THE DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION.  HOW IS THIS GOING TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE?  “I think it changes in some ways as far as my career is concerned, but personally I’m not sure it changes a whole lot.  I’m still gonna get home tonight.  I’m still gonna take out the trash.  It’s one of those days.  It was funny to hear Aric Almirola talk about when he won in New Hampshire and got back home and celebrated with his wife and kids and then goes out to wheel the trash out.  Trash day is tomorrow.  I haven’t been home in a week.  I have to take the trash out.  It’s back to life in the suburbs, but definitely a very gratifying experience for me personally.  I’ve said it before, it’s kind of the way I feel about life and the way I’ve gone about things there’s nothing more important to me than my racing and my career and the people around me that make it possible, so it’s definitely pretty gratifying to have this all come together.”

TIM CINDRIC, President, Team Penske – FROM A FATHER”S PERSPECTIVE, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?  “Anybody who is a parent understands what it’s like to see their kids achieve their dreams and whatever their goals are, especially when you see all the work that they’ve put into it.  This kid, he’s been all-in trying to become a race car driver ever since it was his idea to try and do this, and to see him stand here today at 23 years old and win the Daytona 500 and be here on a Monday is something that I told him, I said, ‘When you’re introduced from here on out, you’re always gonna be a Daytona 500 winner and everybody understands what that is.’  They might not understand all the other things we do in this business, but they understand what that means.”


AND THEY’LL SPELL HIS NAME RIGHT, TOO.  “When you start putting your hands and feet into concrete, it’s gonna stay there forever.  You get to put your name on something that is gonna outlive you, then you know you’ve actually done something special.”


WHEN HE WAS YOUNGER YOU WEREN’T SURE YOU WANTED HIM TO GO DOWN THAT ROAD, BUT HE WAS DETERMINED.  “I’m not sure if it was really because he’s younger.  I’ve never really wanted him to be a race car driver.  It’s a difficult thing for him because there are a lot of double standards.  I’ve been around a lot of racing parents and I try and understand the things that are right and wrong or productive and not productive for them.  I can’t say I’m perfect, but I’ve been around a lot of racing fathers, so I understand the demands on both sides of it.  We try and have a pretty unique relationship.  Even when he was driving as a younger guy, we still talk about it now.  I’ve always said you’ve got to take time to have some kid time, be a kid, just go have fun with it.  He’s always been mature beyond his age in a lot of ways when he needs to be.  He’s known Roger since he can remember, since he was born.  Roger taught him how to shake hands.  He taught him how to look people in the eye when he talks, so he’s never really been intimidated by the racing icons or whatever else.  He has a great level of respect for this sport and the different disciplines.  In other words, his rolodex or his contacts and his list is probably as big as mine in a lot of ways just with all the different series he’s driven in and all the different teams.  What I’ve always liked is the unique relationship he’s always had with his crew and the officials or whatever else.  He learned early on what respect is and hopefully he continues that as a champion.”


WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND AS WE GOT CLOSER TO THE CHECKERED FLAG?  “For me, I know how much he’s prepared for that.  I know how much he and Doug have worked on that and most of the team has, so a lot of people don’t really realize how much preparation goes into trying to win the Daytona 500 and how much cooperation actually happens there, but you’re hoping that one of our cars is in the right place at the right time.  Last night, honestly, it was less about Austin in my mind than it was redeeming ourselves for the way last year didn’t turn out.  In other words, trying to be sure that we give Roger, especially on his birthday, something that he’s given all of us the resources to execute, and when you have that there’s a lot of responsibility to be sure you bring the trophy home for him.  I think that resonated with all of our drivers yesterday and fortunately we were able to make it happen.”

WHAT WAS YOUR CONVERSATION WITH BLANEY LIKE?  “For me, if there’s a guy that deserves to win the Daytona 500 it’s Ryan Blaney and the frustration of finishing second and so forth, I think you see that with Bubba Wallace and those that haven’t been able to do it yet.  Without a doubt, I talked to him after the race as far as congratulations and he wanted it.  He wanted to win the race.  Every driver does.  From my standpoint, you wish there could be two guys that win the race because they both deserved to win.”


HOW LONG BEFORE THIS SETS IN WITH HIM?  “He’s pretty calculated.  It’ll be a process.  He definitely understands and appreciates what it means to be a Daytona 500 winner, but for anybody he understands how many people have tried to win this race and how long it’s taken.  I reminded him it’s taken Roger over thirtysome years to win with the 2 car.  You think about that.  It never really occurred to me that it’s taken that long for Roger’s 2 car to win here.  To be able to have a 2 and a 12 and a 22 now is pretty good for the whole team.”


FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, WHAT IS IT LIKE TO SEE JEREMY BULLINS BE ABLE TO CELEBRATE THIS WIN?  “With him and some of the others on the team, as well as our sponsors, for them to believe in Austin or the team enough to stay there when they had other opportunities to either go with Brad, the caliber of driver that Brad has always been and the success that he’s had, to then accept that you’re gonna have to work with a rookie for a little while and kind of grow with them in some ways, it’s very rewarding to see all of that pay off for them.  Jeremy is one of the first you think about because he had an opportunity to go work for Brad.  He had an opportunity to go do other things, and a lot of crew chiefs of his experience or stature would have probably gone and done that, but he always said that the team is the group that gave me the opportunity and I’m loyal to the team.  You’ve got appreciate that because life is little different that way in a lot of ways.”


WINNING THE 500 SHOULD PROVE AUSTIN IS DESERVING OF THIS RIDE, RIGHT?  “I think everybody is gonna always have their own opinion of everything else and that’s one thing that Austin has never really let bother him.  You’re gonna have those that love you and those that don’t.  Joey Logano told him a long time ago that the brighter lights the more bugs.  There’s always gonna be that and you have to stay on your focus because it doesn’t matter what it is in life you’re not gonna please everybody, so don’t try.”


YOU ARE GETTING THIS CAR BACK TODAY.  WHAT’S THE FUTURE FOR THIS CAR?  “It’ll be the last car we use (laughing).  Right now, we’re not planning to use it.  We’ll just try to keep all the rest of them together.”  

JEREMY BULLINS, Crew Chief, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE PLAYOFFS YET?  “Absolutely.  We think about it every morning when we get up and go to work.”


YOU SAID YOUR FIRST THOUGHT WAS, ‘FINALLY’.  IS THIS SWEETER BECAUSE OF THE NEAR MISSES THAT CAME BEFORE?  “I’ve been watching this race since I can remember, sitting on the floor and watching on TV as a kid.  It probably does make it sweeter, to be honest.  To be so close and to have some second-place finishes, some wrecks on the last lap leading or in a good spot or trying to take the lead or whatever, so to be that close so many times it certainly makes it rewarding to actually get it done.  There was very little drama, so we’ll take it.”


YOU GET THIS CAR BACK, BUT IT WON’T BE USED.  “Yeah, I made a list of the stuff I can’t live without, so, fortunately, it’s a small list.  One of the cool things that Team Penske does is we had a few cars over the years, we built a car just for Indy in 2012 for the Xfinity race and won that race and never saw that car again, so that’s a cool part of the history of Team Penske and the legacy and it’s a really cool thing that they protect that, so I think it’s really cool.  We’ll work around it.”


WITHOUT PROPRIETARY INFORMATION, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE OFF THE CAR TO GO FORWARD?  “Just a couple parts, nothing major.  Obviously, it’s not ideal with waiting on some stuff right now, but we’ll get through it.  It’ll be OK.  It’s a good problem to have.”


THE 12 AND 22 GOT DAMAGE YESTERDAY.  HOW DOES THAT IMPACT YOUR CARS GOING FORWARD?  “I think the industry right now, everybody has heard where everybody is with backup cars and parts and things like that, so, like I said, it’s not ideal but, at the same time, I respect the tradition of trying to protect the legacy, so we’ll work around it and we’ll be fine.”


IF YOU HAD TO GIVE THIS CAR UP, WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED?  “It’s really kind of the same thing.  You try to make the most with what you have.”

Ford Performance PR