With an impressive last stage run and subsequent finish at Nashville Superspeedway, this might be the season for Austin Cindric to shine.
A superspeedway and road course sandwich is proving to be the ideal situation for the NASCAR Cup Series rookie.
Cindric was on a tear through the field at Nashville, starting in 24th place and finishing strong in seventh place. A two-hour long rain and lightning delay meant starting the race with significantly cooler temperatures for the track surface than the beginning where the drivers faced temperatures of close to 100 degrees.
Starting the third stage a lap down due to an unscheduled pit stop, luck seemed to be on his side in the Music City as Cindric was able to dodge both teammate Ryan Blaney and later a loose wheel from Chris Buscher. With 39 laps to go, Cindric had made his way up to the 14th spot.
Josh Bilicki lost a motor late in the race bringing out the final caution at lap 293. The final green flag flew with just five to go and Cindric took the green in fifth place.
Not able to hold off both Chastain and Hamlin on the final lap, Cindric finished the race in the seventh spot, 17 positions higher than where he had started the race.
This was Cindric’s third highest finish of the season. Now, he has back-to-back top 10s after his fifth place finish at Sonoma before the break. The 2020 Xfinity Champion had started his rookie Cup season off as many drivers dream of, by winning the Daytona 500, immediately securing a spot in the Playoffs.
If a vehicle has wheels, Cindric has probably raced it.
Beginning his racing career with legends and Bandoleros in North Carolina, he moved through many other disciplines including RallyCross and sports cars.
However, stock car racing and road courses seem to be where Cindric excels.
His success at road tracks can likely be attributed to his time at the Skip Barber Racing School. This experience was likely a catalyst for Cindric to be sought after as a road course driver early in his stock car racing career.
Cindric’s road course success began in 2016 when he brought home a first-place finish in the K&N East Series at both Virginia International Raceway and Watkins Glen. In 2017, Cindric had a full-time Truck ride with Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) and ran a part-time Xfinity schedule. At BKR, Cindric had a first-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
At Road America, in the Xfinity Series, Cindric started on pole but was involved in a multi-car wreck, battling for the third position.
In 2018, Cindric raced full-time in the Xfinity Series between three different cars, and he was able to score two second-place finishes among four road courses.
Beginning with the 2019 season, Cindric began running full time for Team Penske in the No. 22 car. Over a three-year period when the Xfinity Series had 14 road course races, Cindric scored 10 top five finishes.
In both the Nashville Superspeedway and Sonoma races, Cindric had the largest difference between starting and finishing spots through the field.
— Austin Cindric (@AustinCindric) June 27, 2022
Even if he is unable to qualify well at Road America next week, these results show he has the ability to move through the field, whether it is a road course or an oval. Previous finishes, including a second place finish in his last race at Road America, may foreshadow another podium finish on a road course.
This article has been edited for clarification by Taylor Kitchen.