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HomeSportPenske’s Walt Czarnecki: “We never lost faith in Austin Cindric”

Penske’s Walt Czarnecki: “We never lost faith in Austin Cindric”

by News7

After excelling in sports cars and in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, Cindric burst into the Cup Series with a dramatic victory in the 2022 Daytona 500 in his rookie season.

He ended that year 12th in the series standings, a strong performance for most any rookie. His tenure since in Team Penske’s No. 2 Ford has been much more difficult.

Cindric, 25, struggled through his sophomore season and finished 24th in the standings and while he had shown the speed to contend for wins this year, he had been unable to capitalize on it.

That was until Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, when Cindric ran in the top 10 nearly the entire race and found himself in position to run down his teammate Ryan Blaney for the win in the closing laps of the race.

Cindric was likely going to run out of time but coming to the white flag, Blaney suddenly fell off the pace and out of fuel and Cindric inherited the lead and held on for the win over Denny Hamlin.

Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Freightliner Ford Mustang

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

A tough season suddenly became one to celebrate as Cindric’s win – which snapped an 85-race winless streak – locked him into the 2024 playoffs, the first Penske driver to do so.

Walt Czarnecki, vice chairman of Penske Corporation, described Cindric as “a fellow who has been frustrated.”

“He’s come along, in particular the last five or six races we’ve seen a great deal of progress,” Czarnecki said. “He’s never lost his desire, his intensity. I use the word ‘desire’ to win.

“I was watching Austin, he was patient. He didn’t push the issue. There were some guys on him. He hung in there and drove. I will tell you; he has not lost his desire.

“This is a reaffirming situation, circumstance for him today. In fact, we just talked about it in Victory Lane. We’ve never lost faith in Austin Cindric, I promise you.”

Although an accomplished racer on the track, being the son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric has provided its share of criticism and naysayers in his NASCAR career.

Austin, however, has simply turned that into increased effort at improving his craft.

“There may be an extra measure of pressure on Austin, frankly, because we’ve given (his father) the responsibility for our race team operations,” Czarnecki said.

“Austin is a driver; his dad is a manager. The two don’t meet at all. Well, they meet. In fact, he probably holds Austin to a little bit higher standard than everybody else.”

Cindric’s crew chief, Brian Wilson, believed Sunday’s performance and the win that resulted were the result of a lot of hard work.

“We’ve had a lot of progress this year. Feel like we’ve been building towards this to be able to compete for wins,” he said. “So, to be able to get it was a great day.”

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