Austin Cindric is in for a permanent Cup ride with Team Penske in the No. 2 car starting from the 2022 Cup Series season.
He was set to move to Wood Brothers Racing but with Brad Keselowski leaving Team Penske, the door opened for Cindric to move to his parent team.
Now that he will race full-time in Cup Series from 2022, Cindric knows that he will be up against the finest racers in the country.
“When I got in my car for the Duels (at Daytona), and I had Kyle Larson behind me, I’ve got Ryan Newman in front of me, that was like, ‘Oh God, I’m in,’” Cindric told RACER. “I’m in, and this is what I signed up for, and that was the only realization that I’ve had that I’m part of something that’s at a high level.
“But at the same time, it was like, you’ve got to perform right now, and you got to be on it right now even though you’ve had four laps of practice, and know nothing about what you’re doing, and nobody you’re racing knows anything about you. That was probably the only time I’ve had to say to myself, ‘OK, this is definitely what you’ve signed up for, and you’re about to pay for it.’”
Cindric first tasted Cup race with Daytona 500, where he led two laps and finished 15th in the race. He has made six NASCAR Cup Series starts so far this season. Every race is a learning curve for the defending Xfinity champion before making the big jump next season. He knows that there are plenty of things to be learned.
“There are a lot of things about the current Cup car that is different from the Xfinity car, that will be the same with the Next Gen car,” Cindric said. “Whether that’s the ride height rule, the downforce packages, the engine packages… I’ve always approached it – and maybe it’s because I’ve had the benefit of driving so many different cars – but I’ve approached driving very simply. You have four tires on a racetrack, how do you make those tires work the best?
“Obviously aero plays a role, the mechanics of the car play a role. But at the end of the day, it’s four tires on a racetrack, and how can you make that go the fastest, and what factors are applied? For me, the better I understand that, the better the car’s going to operate. Next Gen is still four tires on a racetrack. I know that’s very simple, but at the end of the day, sometimes you have to remind yourself that, and I think that’s definitely going to be the perspective.”
While the move at Wood Brothers Racing might have been a relative ease for Cindric but taking over the iconic No.2 comes with its expectation. But, Cindric has everything in hand to become a long-term success for the team.