Austin Cindric is still on the hunt for his first win in the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and Pocono Raceway suits him very well.
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has six top fives and eight top 10s so far this season. He has an average start of 7.6 and an average finish of 10.3 and he has led 238 laps.
He’s sitting in third in the points standings for the series – the highest-ranked driver without a win and he has run upfront – leading the third-most percentage of laps this season (12.2%) sitting behind a pair of JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Justin Allgaier.
What’s even more impressive is, there are only two Ford drivers that competing in the Xfinity Series this season and both are in the top three in the standings, Cindric being one of them.
“Obviously, Chase (Briscoe) and I drive for two great teams and I think that’s where it first starts,” Cindric said in a teleconference on Thursday. “Most opportunities Chase and I have to work together. We have a working relationship because we’ve been teammates in the past and we’re friends off the track, but I think that contributes to running well.
“We’re later on in our XFINITY careers, so the experience and having the right teams and having the right backing from Ford. They provide great resources for us with the simulators along with others, so I’m proud of that effort.
“At the same time, you want to beat everyone that’s out there, so I feel like we’ll have to beat him and his team and everybody else to try to win the championship. It’s great that we’re able to have that kind of success in small numbers, but I’d love to have plenty more out there, especially during the superspeedway races.”
This weekend’s Pocono 225 recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons on Sunday, June 27 (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be Cindric’s third Xfinity Series start at Pocono.
In his series track debut, Cindric finished fourth at Pocono in 2018 and last season, he finished seventh. In both races, he started from third.
Cindric has the third-best average running position at Pocono, behind Cup Series drivers Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Cindric has the third-best driver rating behind Keselowski and Busch at 105.6. He’s also sitting right behind them in third for the fastest laps run, too.
That gives him an edge to possibly win the final race of the Dash 4 Cash program of the season too. He’s elated to be eligible on a non superspeedway track too.
“I think being able to run for Dash 4 Cash is awesome,” said Cindric. “My last two years in the XFINITY Series I’ve been able to qualify for it, but I’ve qualified for it at Talladega, so this is the first time I feel like I’ve got somewhat of a control of my destiny as far as being able to be there at the end of the race for it. Overally, obviously, great positioning for us. We’ve had a lot of great runs the last couple weeks, so hopefully being able to carry that momentum into Pocono with Dash 4 Cash is great for our team.”
For Cindric, he says he’s hoping to earn his first oval win of the season on Sunday, but he feels like the fans care more about an oval victory for him than he does. He put a unique perspective on if it comes this weekend.
“It’s funny because I feel like more people put an emphasis on my first oval win or whenever that will be than I do myself. Personally, I know that I’m capable of it. I’ve proven it to myself enough times. I feel like as far as when it’s gonna happen, I think when it’s your day, it’s your day.
“For me, if we win this weekend at Pocono, then it will be my first triangle win and I’ll still be looking for my first oval win. You’re never satisfied, but, overall, it’s been a great year for us.
“Really, the way we ended last year I feel like that carries over. We’ve made changes to our cars and made changes to my driving and I’ve been able to really hone in on the last couple percent as far as what it takes to be the best in this series and I feel like that’s carried straight over.
“I don’t feel like it’s a year-to-year thing. I feel like there’s a lot of things in my career building up to this year and being able to use the resources that I have and obviously being able to execute well I think that’s important. I’ve got the same core group of guys that I’ve had the last couple of years and I feel like that’s important as well as far as being able to run for a championship and I’m proud of that effort. It’s been frustrating a little bit the last couple of weeks not being able to win, especially having such fast cars. You probably saw the peak of that frustration in the second race at Homestead, but, for me, I’m pretty motivated to put us at the front of that field.”
For winning at Pocono though, Cindric says that this is a place to where you have to focus on yourself.
“I feel like you’re always driving your own strategy there,” Cindric continued. “You’re driving your own car. You’re driving your own strategy. I re-watched the race today with my team and understanding how we’re gonna play that race, but, for me, it’s a fun track because it almost reminds me of Fontana in the fact that you have to have a fast car to be able to win the race because it is such a big track, such a long straightaway on both ends.
“But, at the same time, there are a lot of driving characteristics that you have to understand and that you have to be able to manipulate throughout the race to be able to be good there.
“I think that plays into our hands. I’ve always liked that place. I like anywhere you can use the brake pedal and depending on how your car is you can downshift, so I’m excited for it. I think it’s another great opportunity for us to run well.”