How Cindric took a non-traditional path to NASCAR stardom - Motor Informed
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How Cindric took a non-traditional path to NASCAR stardom

The 2020 Xfinity champion, aged 23, got here inside a whisker of efficiently defending his crown within the second-tier collection final yr and made the dream begin to life as a Cup Collection full-timer final weekend by beating Bubba Wallace to the flag within the largest race of the season. 

PLUS: How Penske’s rookie sensation opened NASCAR’s new era in style

From this, it could be deduced NASCAR profession was lengthy destined for the son of Crew Penske president Tim Cindric. However that was hardly the case.

Positive, Cindric had loads of racing lineage in his household. His maternal grandfather was the late sports activities automobile and CART crew proprietor Jim Trueman, who gained the 1986 Indianapolis 500 with driver Bobby Rahal. His father, Tim, joined Crew Penske following the 1999 season and Austin spent quite a few months of Could whereas rising up on the Brickyard watching Roger Penske’s vehicles racking up Indy 500 wins.

But when Cindric started his personal driving profession, it was open-wheel racing and sportscars to which he initially turned. And instantly, he discovered success.

After attending the Skip Barber Racing Faculty to achieve highway racing expertise, in 2013 and 2014 he raced within the U.S. F2000 Championship – a part of the Highway to Indy programme. He additionally competed in Historic Sportscar Racing, profitable a race in a Porsche 944 earlier than he was 16 years outdated.

Aged 17, Cindric drove a GT3 Mercedes on the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hours, the youngest driver to ever compete within the occasion. He started competing full-time in sportscars that yr, racing a GT4-spec Ford Mustang within the Continental Tyre Sports activities Automobile Collection, and have become the championship’s youngest-ever winner at Mosport earlier than stepping as much as a GT3 McLaren in the 2016 Pirelli World Problem.

When he wasn’t driving sportscars, Cindric started to check the NASCAR waters. He ran a handful of races within the ARCA Menards Collection, profitable as soon as; gained each begins he made within the Okay&N Professional Collection East (now ARCA East); and made a handful of begins within the NASCAR Truck Collection. 

Cindric was team-mates with Jack Hawksworth and sportscar veteran Scott Pruett at the 3GT Lexus team in the 2017 IMSA SportsCar Championship

Cindric was team-mates with Jack Hawksworth and sportscar veteran Scott Pruett on the 3GT Lexus crew within the 2017 IMSA SportsCar Championship

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

Previous to the beginning of the 2017 season, Cindric all of the sudden discovered himself with sudden selection.

“I had the chance that I’ve in all probability had been working for, for the final three or 4 years, which was to be a manufacturer-backed sportscar driver,” Cindric mentioned. “I had a fantastic alternative lined up for me that I had labored arduous for.

“On the identical time I had executed just a few ARCA races, just a few Truck races that went pretty nicely, and I had the chance to go full-time Truck racing. Take into consideration the world being your oyster as a younger driver, you even have the chance to decide on that.”

Cindric selected NASCAR and signed up for a full season with 2012 Cup champion Brad Keselowski’s crew within the Truck Collection. So why did he choose inventory vehicles?

“Clearly that is the most important stage in American motorsports, however I don’t assume you get a second probability to make a NASCAR profession work,” mentioned Cindric, who stays lively in sportscars and just lately contested the IMSA SportsCar Championship season-opener in a GTD Professional class Mercedes.

“There are only a few individuals which have been ready to do this. For me, that was a chance to reap the benefits of that, and clearly it’s gotten me this far. I’ve been capable of nonetheless preserve ties to that aspect of racing, and I nonetheless have a number of ardour for that aspect of racing. It was definitely a defining second form of within the path of my profession.”

It has paid off handsomely. Since 2018, when Cindric moved to the Xfinity Collection with Crew Penske, he’s gained 13 races and the 2020 collection championship. Final season, he got here up simply quick to eventual champion and race winner within the ultimate race at Phoenix Daniel Hemric.

Cindric drove a handful of Cup races final season for Penske and shortly confirmed he may compete in NASCAR’s premier collection. And kicking off his first full-time season within the Cup Collection with Penske, changing Keselowski following his transfer to RFK Racing, Cindric has already claimed the race each NASCAR driver needs to win.

Cindric held off team-mate Blaney with a late block to win the Daytona 500 on Sunday

Cindric held off team-mate Blaney with a late block to win the Daytona 500 on Sunday

Photograph by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

“There’s a protracted listing of drivers which have tried and completed second or led a number of laps and are available actually shut – some days it’s your day,” he mentioned. “I’ll commerce shedding the Xfinity championship by 4 inches for a Daytona 500, I suppose, any day!

“If there’s something I’ve left to show, I’m unsure what it’s. However in any other case, I’m very pleased with the household that I’ve come from, the person who my dad is and the way in which he leads our crew. I’m very proud to be uncovered to that, my dad and mom and Roger Penske.”

At simply 23 years outdated and a Daytona 500 trophy in hand, Cindric has already captured the glory that has eluded a lot of NASCAR’s largest stars. It could be tough to know his profession is simply getting underway as Sunday’s race at Auto Membership Speedway in California will solely be his ninth Cup begin.

No matter what comes subsequent, it’s clear, nevertheless, Cindric’s profession selection was the fitting one.

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