NASCAR: Austin Cindric lands 2021 Daytona 500 ride

Reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric is set to attempt to make his Cup Series debut in the 2021 season-opening Daytona 500.

Team Penske have confirmed that they will field a fourth entry in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway for reigning Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric, who has yet to make his Cup Series debut.

Cindric, who is set to compete full-time in the Xfinity Series again in 2021 before making the jump to the Cup Series in 2022, is set to join full-time drivers Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano in Roger Penske’s lineup for the 63rd annual running of the “Great American Race”.

Cindric is set to drive the #33 Ford as he attempts to qualify for this 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked oval in Daytona Beach, Florida. Miles Stanley is set to serve as his crew chief.

The 22-year-old Columbus, Ohio native is not guaranteed a starting spot in the race, however.

The #33 Ford is not a chartered entry, so Cindric will need to lock himself into the 40-car field by qualifying in one of the four remaining open spots in the single-car qualifying session or the Bluegreen Vacations Duels.

Cindric’s #33 Ford is the 45th confirmed entry for this race, meaning that he is slated to be one of nine drivers competing to solidify one of those four open spots. All three of his teammates are locked into the field.

Here is what Cindric had to say about this opportunity in a team release.

“There is a lot to be excited about heading into Daytona. It doesn’t really even need to be said that the Daytona 500 is the biggest crown jewel race in NASCAR and one of the biggest races in the world – so to have a shot to be in the show while driving for Roger Penske is a big opportunity. Qualifying our way into the race as an ‘open’ car will be a big challenge. I look forward to working with Miles and all of the guys on the No. 33 team, while also continuing my focus on winning back-to-back Xfinity Series Championships.”

Here is what Stanley had to add.

“Ever since I joined Team Penske in 2013, I’ve been able to grow as an engineer and learn from some of the best in the business. Now I get the chance to become a Cup Series crew chief with one of the formidable organizations in the sport, which is an amazing opportunity. To get to do it with Austin at Daytona International Speedway is a perfect recipe for success. I look forward to working with him and hitting the ground running with the No. 33 Ford team in Daytona and the other Cup Series races that Austin runs in 2021.”

In six career Xfinity Series starts at Daytona International Speedway, Cindric has recorded two top five finishes, three top eight finishes and an average finish of 19.2. His top finish is his fourth place finish in July of 2019.

Single-car qualifying for the 63rd annual Daytona 500 is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 10, and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels are scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 11. The race is set to be broadcast live on Fox beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 14. Will Cindric be one of the 40 drivers in the field?