Austin Cindric Looking to Pounce With Front-Row Indy Start

By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer

Austin Cindric is in his happy place.

After qualifying second for Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, the NASCAR Cup Series rookie is aiming high on the grounds owned by his car owner, Roger Penske.

“Coming in through the tunnel and seeing that museum, knowing what this place has meant to so many people, to my family, my car owner… that’s enough for me,” Cindric said.

Missing out on pole by 0.252 seconds behind Tyler Reddick, the No. 2 Ford is among the favorites for Sunday’s second time around the 2.439-mile Indianapolis GP circuit.

“If Reddick beat me by like 0.050 seconds, I would be kind of upset at myself,” he said. “But like three tenths, I probably couldn’t find that. It was a good lap by him, obviously. It’s a long race and a great pit stall.”

Finishing ninth at the Indy GP in 2021, Cindric is coming off back-to-back road course top fives in 2022, running fifth and third at Circuit of the Americas and Sonoma, respectively.

Additionally, over the last two months in one of the Cup Series’s most challenging seasons, he has been among the more consistent, scoring seven top-15 finishes in the last nine races. This momentum is well-timed, as the Daytona 500 champion quickly approaches his first playoff run in Cup.

“With the exception of Pocono, it’s been a really consistent run for us on Sundays,” he said. “It’s nice to have a good Saturday — to lead practice, second in qualifying. I’m happy with the gains, we’re coming in and trying to find more speed on these types of tracks.

One area Cindric was able to find gains was Turn 1, which is one of the hardest braking zones of the entire calendar. With the adjusted brakes in the Gen 7 racecars in 2022, Cindric knew it was a place where time can be gained or lost on pole day and raceday.

“We’re certainly deeper than the previous generation car,” he said. “That’s the challenge of having 15 minutes of practice and trying to get your references, to understand where the tire wear is going to be. You’re usually missing some form of information before the race starts. That’s one of the parts that makes it hard.

“I about blew Turn 1 in the first round, at least locked the rear [tires] up. Everyone is pushing.”

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