By: Mitchell Breuer
Life is good for Austin Cindric right now.
Heading into the 2021 NASCAR season, he is reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion looking to repeat again this year, and he will be attempting to make his first NASCAR Cup Series start in the Daytona 500 driving for Team Penske.
The 22-year-old is not just content riding the wave of momentum though, looking to make this year better.
“As far as what my goals are for the year and, how do I achieve that, I think you always, as a racecar driver, whether you have a good year or a bad year or the best year, you have to continue to better yourself because everyone around you is going to keep stepping up,” Cindric told POPULAR SPEED.
It will be tough to top his stats from last year, scoring six wins, 19 top-five’s, and 26 top-10’s, but with the addition of a part-time schedule in Cup, Cindric is hopeful the experience will make him better for the races on Saturday.
“I have some great opportunities to run Cup races and get a taste of what it takes to race against the best because ultimately that is what I want to be one day is to be one of the best and race against the best of the best,” Cindric said. “It is a unique opportunity for me to kind of have a scope of what that long term plan looks like and apply it to the short term. Take what I learn from the Cup races this year and apply them to the Xfinity races.”
The improvement may be necessary, as the series could see the competition get better this season. Two additions to the full-time schedule that Cindric is keeping his eye are; Daniel Hemric, moves to Joe Gibbs Racing, and AJ Allmendinger increasing his workload with Kaulig Racing.
“I think there are more cars in the field this year than last that are capable of winning races, so another reason to continually step up your game,” Cindric said. “I am excited for that challenge as always and looking forward to the year getting started.”
Even with that in mind though, Cindric is still aiming to be at the top of the class.
“In years prior, there was the ‘Big Three’, (Cole) Custer, (Tyler) Reddick, and (Christopher) Bell. You would get out of your car and see what their 10-lap average looks like,” Cindric said. “I feel like we have a great opportunity, as we did last year, to be one of those guys. Not that is ever my goal, but that means you are winning races, that means you are brining fast cars to the racetrack, that means you are a really strong team. Our team with the No. 22 is relatively unchanged and, I expect us to have just as much strength and hopefully build off what we had last year.”