Team Penske’s Austin Cindric has made six starts in the Cup Series in preparation for his move to the No. 2 in 2022. He will add another to the list when he climbs back into the No. 33 Ford Mustang for the inaugural Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Aug. 15. (1 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, IMS Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Team Penske announced on Monday, Aug. 9, that Cindric will pull double-duty during the NASCAR weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He will make his regular start during the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard on Saturday, Aug. 14, and then he will join the Cup Series drivers the following day for his second race of the weekend.
Unlike the majority of Cup Series drivers, Cindric has experience on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He competed in the first-ever Xfinity Series race on the track, finishing fifth overall after leading 21 laps. Chase Briscoe — now a rookie with Stewart-Haas Racing — captured the win after a late battle with Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley and JR Motorsports’ Noah Gragson.
The Start Will Give Cindric More Experience Against Future Foes
Cindric has proven himself as a capable driver after racking up 12 wins and 53 top-five finishes in the Xfinity Series, as well as the 2020 championship. However, he will face considerable pressure to achieve success once he enters the Cup Series and replaces Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford Mustang.
Cindric has already gained some experience ahead of his move to Cup by making six starts and posting a season-best finish of 15th in the Daytona 500. He has seen the differences between his current competitors and those that continually fight for the Bill France Cup championship trophy.
While he has shown promise during races at Road America and Circuit of the Americas, Cindric has yet to lock up a top-10 finish or contend for a win. Although the July 4 race at Road America served as his best opportunity prior to mechanical issues ruining his day.
Once he heads to Indianapolis and climbs into the No. 33, Cindric will have another race to see how he stacks up against road course experts in Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. He will be able to test himself once again before moving to Cup on a full-time basis and taking on the best of the best every week.
Gaining Experience Will Help Cindric Fulfill a Request
While making seven starts in the Cup Series will help Cindric prepare for the upcoming 2022 season and his move to the No. 2, it will also help him fulfill a special request from a teammate. Joey Logano, the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio after the announcement that Cindric will replace Keselowski that he will need the rookie to push him on a weekly basis.
“I look at Ryan Blaney [and] Austin Cindric. They have their own ways to push you along too,” Logano said prior to the race at Watkins Glen. “We can all complement each other and make each other better. That’s what you want in a teammate. I don’t want to be the guy that is light years ahead of my teammates. Because then who is pushing you?
“You want teammates who can push you along and make you a better race car driver,” Logano continued. “That’s ultimately going to make the company better. When I think about what Ryan Blaney has done over the past few years, especially on the 550 [horsepower] race tracks, that’s pushing me. That’s pushing me for sure. Those are his best race tracks, and he’s the best on 550s in our company right now.”
Cindric has strides to make before he begins pushing Logano on a regular basis, but he will move one step closer to this point when he joins the Cup Series for the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard will take place on Sunday, Aug. 15, at 1 p.m. ET. NBC will provide coverage for the race.