Austin Cindric has high confidence in continuing hot streak to Daytona road course

By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer

Known by many, Austin Cindric is only one second-place finish shy of currently sitting on five consecutive wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2020.

Another known fact? The series heads to the Daytona International Speedway road course for the first time this weekend, and this Cindric kid can turn some hot laps on a road course.

Earning three straight wins at Kentucky and Texas last month, the third-year driver came home second at Kansas to Brandon Jones before winning for a fourth time last week at Road America in Wisconsin.

Now, with a hefty 1.2 average finish in the past month, the Team Penske talent is more than confident to continue the hot streak on the 3.6-mile circuit in Daytona.

“Any time you race in Florida in the middle of the day in the summertime it’s going to be hot and humid,” Cindric said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s a fun challenge and hopefully we can rise to the occasion.”

With multiple prior starts on the Daytona road course {including three sports car starts in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona] Cindric will rely on those past laps to give him an edge for Saturday’s UNOH 188.

“My career has really been about making myself as versatile as possible,” he said. “Between the different cars I’ve driven, different tracks. That’s what I’ve worked on, that’s what I feel like I’m good at as a driver. That’s where I feel I differentiate myself as a driver is to be able to apply that to NASCAR racing has been great.

“It’s great for the team and it’s obviously important to be able to do that at this point in the year, trying to contend for the regular season championship and set ourselves up well for the playoffs.”

To add to the advantage of track experience and an abundance of momentum, Cindric will start from pole for the 52-lap race. An advantage that may actually lead to a greater potential for issues being the first driver to hit Turn 1.

“I feel you can learn quicker the further back you start,” he said, “as far as where you have to pass people, where you can set that up, how your car is in compromised situations. You can learn that very quickly, whereas when you start up front you get a gap and have track position [you don’t learn your car].

“Overall, for me it’s a clean track in front and hopefully we can get a gap and I can learn as much as I can about my car and how to make ourselves and myself better throughout the first stage.”

The schedule has taken its share of turns in 2020 as the sport continues to compete through the COVID-19 pandemic. But one vein of the schedule that has changed the most is road course racing.

Losing both of its dates at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Watkins Glen International for 2020, the Xfinity Series has, in turn, picked up two other circuits in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and now the Daytona road course.

And being just two years removed from the addition of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, 21-year-old Cindric is optimistic in the future of road course racing in the top levels of NASCAR, as he himself elevates through the ranks.

“I wish we were able to go to Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio this year in the XFINITY Series, but obviously a lot of fun things to look forward to on the Daytona Road Course,” he said. “I think the fans love seeing something different every weekend, whether if it’s us going to Talladega or Daytona, or going to a road course. There are a lot of great tracks on the schedule and I think the fans enjoy a variety in what they watch every week.

“I think NASCAR has picked up on that and I think the more road courses that have been added, I think that adds more to that variety. We can look forward to the future. It sounds like the cars will be even more capable on those types of tracks, so that’s exciting for me, given that that’s probably more of a comfort level for me.

“But, at this point in my career, I’ve probably done more races on ovals in NASCAR than anything else, so I love all of it. Like I said before, I love the versatility in the schedule because it really highlights the strength in drivers and the strength in teams that are able to adapt and react. I think that’s what makes it fun for the fans to watch.”

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