Team Penske’s Austin Cindric kicked down the door to his NASCAR Cup Series rookie season with a massive victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
With the victory, Cindric became the first rookie to win the prestigious event and the ninth different driver to win his first NASCAR Cup Series race in the Daytona 500; joining Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994), Michael Waltrip (2001), Trevor Bayne (2011), Michael McDowell (2021). He also is the second youngest winner of the Daytona 500 at 23 years, 5 months, and 18 days behind Trevor Bayne, who won the event at the age of 20.
Now Cindric is looking to join Matt Kenseth (2009: Daytona, Auto Club), Jeff Gordon (1997: Daytona, Rockingham), David Pearson (1976: Riverside, Daytona), Bobby Welborn (1959: Champion, Daytona) and Marvin Panch ( 1957: Lancaster, Concord) as the fifth different driver to start a season with back-to-back wins.
This weekend will be Cindric’s series career track debut at Auto Club Speedway. The 23-year-old has three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at 2-mile track posting a best finish of third in 2020.
Cindric and Keselowski are tied atop the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings
After a wild season-opening Daytona 500 that concluded in overtime, the NASCAR Cup Series finds itself with a tie atop the driver standings with Team Penske driver and Daytona 500 champion Austin Cindric tied with RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski with 54 points each. Cindric’s victory at Daytona gives him the tiebreaker heading into this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.
Cindric’s win has locked him into the Playoffs, and now the rising star is tasked with becoming the sixth different driver to win the Daytona 500 and the series championship in the same season; joining Lee Petty (1959), Richard Petty (four times: 1964, 1971, 1974, 1979), Cale Yarborough (1977) and Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013). If Cindric accomplishes the feat, he would be the first rookie to do so.