Austin Cindric Hoping to Capitalize on 'Dega Desperation

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs 

In just nine races into the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, Austin Cindric has already had an unimaginable rookie season. The 23-year-old became a first-time winner in the series opener Daytona 500. It was his eighth series start and second at the prestigious event. 

“It takes a lot of execution and sometimes positioning,” Cindric said of the Ford machines being able to be contenders at superspeedway tracks, “One of those pieces is obviously having fast cars. I think the engine shop puts a lot of effort into these types of races, as well as our team.” 

“I feel like our two senior drivers, Ryan and Joey, are two of the best at this type of racing. You look at Talladega, I think six of the 12 wins Penske has at Talladega are from Joey and Ryan.” 

Talladega is often compared to Daytona because of its similarities, but few often look at its differences to see how they can better themselves throughout the weekend. The Team Penske driver spoke of both and how he’ll approach the weekend, while already having one win to his name for the year.  

“There's so many unknowns going to Daytona [you] kind of have to remind yourself of not only the car and the things that you learned throughout Speedweeks, but also the fact that Talladega is a different race track,” Cindric said, “Being able to keep an open mind but also Daytona you're gonna race different because everyone kind of looks as an exhibition.” 

There’s a lot of guys in the field that really want one win because they see that as their only way to make the playoffs.” Cindric continued on the early Playoff battle, “We’ve got so many one winners we've only got one guy with multiple wins. So from that standpoint, I would see this being maybe a desperate race already with business picking up in one column.”

How do you approach the weekend when so many winless drivers may be looking at it as their only way to secure their way into the Round of 16? 

For Cindric, it’s simple, but he does not have a clear-cut answer to a solution on the best approach for the Geico 500. 

“I'm not sure you really can [prepare] you're kind of just more of a passenger. You might just tighten up your belts more before we restart but other than that, that's about it. 

"I mean, you can understand and you can maybe expect guys to make mistakes you know, sometimes when the pressure is high that you know people make more mistakes. But at the same time, expecting big blocks [and] expecting people to take runs when they have those types of things are probably what you can do to least prepare ahead of time as the driver to maybe anticipate other people's nerves.

“Like I said before, I think there's a lot of people noticing that there's a lot of wins and you have to win to making the playoffs with the way things are trending at the moment,” Cindric explained.

Cindric has three top-five finishes and four top-10 finishes in six XFINITY starts. Cindric says that some may think it’s the best time to be a rookie, but he thinks it’s an even playing field despite that. 

“I think that's based off of the fact that everyone's having to learn quite a lot. And there's a lot of newness with the cars. And that doesn't mean that I don't have habits that I'm having to unlearn as well. Yeah, my whole basis of how to drive a stock car has been in an XFINITY car. That's pretty much it. I had one year in the trucks but it's pretty much four years of experience racing and that's what I've defined racing on an oval period.”

Cindric is 14th in the standings, 23 points behind Chase Briscoe in 10th position. NASCAR Cup Series qualifying is Saturday, April 23rd at 11 a.m. ET on FS1. 

Austin Cindric Hoping to Capitalize on 'Dega Desperation  Austin Cindric Hoping to Capitalize on 'Dega Desperation Reviewed by Courtney Horn on Saturday, April 23, 2022 Rating: 5