Cindric to replace Keselowski in Penske NASCAR team

Austin Cindric. Picture: Team Penske Twitter

Austin Cindric, son of Team Penske president Tim, will take over the squad’s #2 Mustang from Brad Keselowski in next year’s NASCAR Cup Series.

Cindric won the Xfinity Series in 2020, currently leads NASCAR’s second-tier competition, and was already set to compete in the Cup Series on a full-time basis next year at Wood Brothers Racing.

Keselowski will leave Team Penske at the end of the current campaign “to pursue other opportunities within the sport”, according to its announcement.

Indications are that the 37-year-old, who took the Cup Series title with the Mooresville-based outfit in 2012, is switching camps in order to also become a shareholder of a team.

Nevertheless, Roger Penske himself said 2022 is an opportune time to bring Cindric into the fold as a full-time Cup Series driver given it coincides with the competition debut of the NextGen car.

“Austin is a champion and has proven his abilities both on and off the track,” stated ‘The Captain’.

“The Cup Series is a big step for any rookie but making this move now, in conjunction with the introduction of the new NextGen car, makes sense.

“He has gained valuable experience this year competing in a handful of races at the Cup level and he has shown that he belongs out there.”

Cindric’s best finish in his six Cup Series starts thus far is a 15th in the Daytona 500 which opened the 2021 season.

However, he has led laps in three of those races, including when he ran top 10 for much of the Daytona 500, and qualified in the top five on the road courses of Circuit of The Americas and Road America.

The 22-year-old also boasts 12 Xfinity Series race wins, all for Team Penske, and all since he went full-time in 2019.

“Throughout my NASCAR career, I’ve grown a lot as a driver and an individual,” said Cindric.

“There are so many individuals within the walls of Team Penske that have elevated me to a level that matches this opportunity.

“The support towards my development from Roger, Team Penske, and all of our partners has been the leading factor towards race wins and a championship.

“The #2 car is iconic to this sport and is a number that represents the foundation of this team. It is a great honour and a great responsibility to continue that role. As 2022 gets closer, I am excited to embrace that.

“Until then, my focus remains on winning another Xfinity Series Championship.”

In Australia, Cindric has twice tested a Supercar, including a rookie evaluation day with DJR Team Penske, and was a wildcard in last year’s Supercars All Stars Eseries.

However, he has also raced Down Under in the real world, sharing an Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Bens SLS AMG with Dean Canto and Simon Hodge in the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour.

Cindric will share Team Penske’s NASCAR Cup Series stable with incumbents Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano next year.

At Wood Brothers, Harrison Burton will now take over the #21 seat from Matt DiBenedetto in 2022.

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