Upcoming Events on

RATV white
Full Schedule

Austin Cindric Looking to 'Get Back on Track' at Circuit of The Americas

After two straight finishes outside the top-30 at Phoenix and Bristol, Austin Cindric is looking ahead to Circuit of The Americas (COTA) this weekend to get his 2024 NASCAR Cup Series campaign back on track.


hero image for Austin Cindric Looking to 'Get Back on Track' at Circuit of The Americas

After two strong results to open the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series campaign, Austin Cindric and the No. 2 Team Penske Ford Mustang team have begun to fade, dropping from second in point standings following Atlanta to a disappointing 21st, just three weeks later.

The blame cannot be laid entirely on Cindric, though, who was caught up in an early-race accident at Phoenix Raceway, and like so many others in the field, was a victim of excessive tire wear last time out at Bristol Motor Speedway, both resulting in finishes outside the top-30.

But, as the series contests its first road course event of the year at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), the opportunity exists for Cindric, traditionally known as a strong road course driver, to rebound, and if things go perfectly, become the first driver for Team Penske - and Ford Performance as a whole - to lock into the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

It's a chance that the 25-year-old driver is well aware of, and prepared to tackle this weekend in Austin, Texas.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to get back on track and hit the reset button,” said Cindric. “The last couple of weeks have been pretty funky with getting knocked out the first couple laps at Phoenix and then obviously last week’s craziness and all the tire failures that we experienced, so I’m kind of excited to just get back going and hopefully a lot of green flag running.”

For Cindric, the timing of Sunday's EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix is impeccable, having earned top-10 finishes in the last two events at the 3.41-mile road course and being one of two drivers to have led laps in every NASCAR Cup Series event at the racetrack -- the other being teammate Joey Logano.

“It’s a place that we’ve had some good pace,” Cindric added. “We obviously have to adapt to the new package, but I’m excited to go hit the reset button and get after it.”

If anything, the last couple of weeks have demonstrated how rapidly things can fall apart in the NASCAR Cup Series and how quickly the narrative can be flipped. Those things haven’t rattled the third-year driver, yet, as there are still 21 races left in the regular season.

“It’s funny because two weeks ago I would have gotten the same question from a lot of folks saying how great the start of your season has gone,” Cindric quipped. “Two weeks later, it’s all you’re in a rut. It’s so easy to react to that kind of stuff. It’s a pretty long game here, so I feel like I have to defend that in a moment that it’s a long season.”

When speaking to the media on Wednesday, Cindric restated his overlying optimism for this weekend’s race at COTA, even though things haven’t necessarily gone to plan in recent weeks.

“Yeah, the last two weeks have been wildly out of control of what I feel like our race team is capable of in a few different ways, but as far as COTA stacks up for me, yeah, no matter how you cut it, it’s been a racetrack that I’ve been able to be competitive at and lead laps every time I’ve been there in a Cup car.”

“Personally, it’s not necessarily my favorite track, to be honest, but it’s somewhere that we’ve performed well. We seem to have a package that works well there and after the last couple of weeks I’m very hungry to just execute and everyone do our jobs – that comes down to my pit crew as well and everybody just kind of getting in a rhythm again because we haven’t been able to.”

“As much as we race, it feels awkward to not have anything to really think about from a normal standpoint of like, ‘Oh, maybe we need to do this to improve the car or that’, and not have these massive issues, whether if it’s getting wrecked out early or having this tire and track debacle or any of that. Let’s just reset and I think it’s a great weekend to reset.”

Sitting outside the top-20 in points, the best-case scenario for Cindric on Sunday, aside from a playoff-clinching victory, is an amazing point haul, which isn’t necessarily straightforward this season, due to the reintroduction of stage cautions – meaning a great finish may not be enough for a superhuman leap up the standings post-COTA.

"I think it all depends on how competitive you feel like you are, whether that's on Saturday or Sunday," Cindric said when asked about the balance of racing for points versus the victory. "If you feel like you have a chance to win the race or not, I think there's going to be some pretty clear-cut guys that are going to flip the stages."

"We’re obviously back to playing that game to where you might even win the race and not have a max points day or have a good finish and not have a very good points day, so you certainly have to weigh that out. I think the points are very tight. I think I was 11th or 10th or third in points two or three weeks ago, so things happen pretty fast this early in the year. I’m not necessarily in a points panic, but points are definitely just as important as getting a good finish if not more.”

Now, things may look doom-and-gloom for Cindric, sitting outside the top-20 in NASCAR Cup Series point standings, but it's clear that the Team Penske driver isn't necessarily feeling the pressure just yet, as the series approaches its sixth event of the 2024 season.

Should Cindric, Logano, or anybody from the Ford Performance came find themselves in Victory Lane at the end of Sunday, it will mark the first win for the all-new Ford Mustang Dark Horse, and the sixth winner of the year in the NASCAR Cup Series in six weeks.

Image Courtesy of Rusty Jarrett, NKP, Courtesy of Ford Performance

RA Icon


Sign-up for our free NASCAR & Grassroots racing newsletter...