Cindric embracing growth process in NASCAR Cup Series competition

Austin Cindric sets high standards for himself. As such, it’s not fun not winning, and until last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at WWTR, Cindric hadn’t been winning.

It was 85 races between Cindric’s triumph in the Daytona 500 (Feb. 20, 2022) and the third visit for the Cup Series in St. Louis (June 2). For Cindric, that stretch has been about understanding growth that happens at the Cup Series level and dealing with the ups and downs that come with it.

“I watch a lot of football, and you see it with college players going into the NFL,” Cindric said this week. “That performance can or cannot translate depending on how you adapt. The Cup Series field is extremely talented, and to be able to separate yourself in today’s day and age is more of a challenge, probably than ever in some ways. But otherwise, I want to be on that level. I want that challenge. I don’t want to just be satisfied with what I’ve done.”


Cindric won races in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series before taking over the famed No. 2 car for Roger Penske. He also won the Xfinity Series championship in 2020.

But after winning the Daytona 500 to open his rookie season, it’s been a battle for relevancy and results. Not for a lack of effort – Cindric and his team have the resources, and he isn’t afraid to lean on his teammates. Cup Series racing, however, is different from the other levels or other racing series that Cindric has experienced, which means putting in the work.

“You have to have difficult conversations with the people that matter,” Cindric said. “If you’re just reinventing the wheel to reinvent the wheel because you don’t feel good about how things are going, you’ve got to do everything with a purpose. I feel like I’ve turned over a lot of stones to get to where we’re seeing some progress with me and my group. That’s what it takes, I think.”

It was the right place at the right time for Cindric in St. Louis. Ryan Blaney’s misfortune as he approached the white flag allowed Cindric to capitalize. It was a much-needed weekend from start to finish as Cindric qualified second, led 53 laps and finished with a victory. His average running position throughout the afternoon was sixth – making it a race where Cindric was both lucky and good.

With the win in hand, Cindric was eager to return to Team Penske headquarters this week to see the rest of the team — a group that had his back over the last two years of hunting for success.

“I certainly spend a lot of time at the race shop, so the shop-based guys are pretty used to seeing me whether it’s just walking through the facility, going to the gym every day or obviously being around the car and being around the team,” Cindric said.

“It’s definitely a community of people that put a lot of work in and obviously don’t get to see the other side at the racetrack, but it’s just appreciated. I don’t expect anyone to be excited or happy about a poor performance or anything like that. I don’t think anyone is, but the support that I’ve received from the team, from top to bottom, throughout this stretch of 85 races, if you want to call it, has been unwavering.

“I’ve always been a person that says other people’s opinions don’t matter, but the people that are putting in the hard work and that are part of my team, those are the only opinions to me that matter and to have that support even through the tough times shows the type of character of the people that work here and to have that belief in me is awesome. It’s appreciated, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by me and it’s definitely a motivator.”

Story originally appeared on Racer