Austin Cindric will race in the NASCAR Xfintiy Series in 2021 before moving up to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022, it was announced Thursday.
MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Team Penske announced today that the organization is extending its driver development program by signing Austin Cindric to a contract extension that will see the 22-year-old remain with the team through the foreseeable future, driving in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) and NASCAR Cup Series (NCS).
Currently competing in the NXS Playoffs, Cindric will return to race full-time in the 2021 Xfinity Series while also earning the opportunity to drive in select Cup Series next season. In 2022, Cindric will race the full season in the Cup Series as he will transition to Wood Brothers Racing to drive the iconic No. 21 Ford Mustang. Team Penske and Wood Brothers Racing formed a technical alliance in 2015 and the teams have worked together on driver development opportunities in the past, most recently with current Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney.
“As we continue to position our team for future success, it is important to make sure Austin continues his development in the Xfinity Series with Team Penske,” said Roger Penske. “Austin has made great strides in recent years and he has become a consistent winner and a true championship contender this season. He will continue his natural progression and get some Cup Series experience in 2021. That will help him prepare for a full season in 2022 with the new NextGen car, racing the No. 21 Ford Mustang for Wood Brothers Racing.”
Racing the No. 22 Ford Mustang in the Xfinity Series, Cindric became just the second driver in series history to win five races in the span of six events earlier this season. Along with his series-best 17 top-five finishes and over 800 laps led, he captured the 2020 NXS Regular Season Championship and entered the playoffs tied for the top seed. He is currently positioned second in points following the second race of the NXS Playoffs last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
“This is a big step forward in my career long-term, and I am humbled and motivated by the opportunity and the confidence that Team Penske, Ford Performance, the Wood Brothers, and all of our partners have expressed in my abilities and my development as a driver,” said Cindric. “Every race car driver wants to advance in his career, and I can‘t think of a better way to do that than on a clear path with Team Penske that will eventually lead to a full-time opportunity in the NASCAR Cup Series. I‘m really excited for this next chapter in my development to continue working towards competing and trying to win at the highest level. Another season of experience in the Xfinity Series will be beneficial and I‘m looking forward to competing in some Cup Series races in 2021 to prepare for a full season in 2022.”
Over the course of his short stock car racing career, Cindric has earned seven NXS victories, along with wins in the NASCAR Truck Series, ARCA and the former NASCAR K&N Series. Cindric is one of the most diverse young racers in America, having also raced in a wide variety of series including the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Pirelli World Challenge Series, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Series and Red Bull Global Rallycross.
“Our Ford Performance family is one of the strongest in the sport, and to know now that we will have a driver like Austin in our camp in both Xfinity and Cup is a very exciting prospect,” said Ford Performance Global Director Mark Rushbrook. “He‘s represented our brand so well this year by winning five races and being at the top of the standings, so we know he can get the job done. He‘s also a great representative off the track and has helped us connect with an even younger fan base through some of our marketing initiatives. We are happy to see him remain with Team Penske and we are excited about his future with Ford Performance and the Wood Brothers.”