Austin Cindric on his reputation — “In a sport that races on ovals, you have to be good on them”
During day one of Daytona 500 Media Availabilities, I got the chance to ask 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion Austin Cindric about how his reputation in the industry has changed since winning that championship.
Early in his career, Austin Cindric did not receive the respect that he thought he deserved from the media and fans alike. People were under the impression that he received many of his opportunities because his dad Tim was the Team President at Team Penske.
Austin tried to shed this image by taking a development deal with Ford and also making limited starts in the Xfinity Series with Roush Fenway in their famous number 60 Mustang. However, those starts just furthered the thought that he was nothing more than a pay driver as he would struggle during the 2018 season.
Surprise throughout the sport was the thought by many when Team Penske announced that Austin would drive a full season in the Xfinity Series in 2019. The industry thought that this move was too soon for such an inexperienced driver.
However, Cindric started to improve and prove the naysayers wrong as he would go on to win two races that year. One at Road America and the other at Mid-Ohio.
He then started to receive different criticism from the media. They now had it in their minds that Austin could only win on the road courses, and, with road courses being his racing background, this seemed true. There was only one thing going into Austin’s mind as 2020 came around and that was to prove he could win on an oval.
2020 was the year Austin proved everyone wrong. He did not go out and just win one oval race. He had four of his six wins on oval tracks including the championship race at Pheonix in November. He also recorded a career-high 18 top-fives. So yesterday when I asked the 2020 Xfinity Champion if he think his reputation as “just a road course ringer” was gone, this is what he had to say:
“ I always wanted to be described as a racecar driver first but I’m definitely focused on NASCAR Racing and trying to be more competitive on ovals.”
Austin then followed up with this statement:
“ In a sport that races primarily on ovals, I feel like you have to be good at them to be successful. So to cross that bridge last year was great.”
Cindric is returning to the Xfinity Series full-time next season and is probably the favorite for the championship. Austin is hoping to build on his momentum from last year and hopes he can turn that momentum into success as he chases a second title and also embarks on making limited Cup starts this year. The first of these Cup races will be the Daytona 500 on February 14th.