NASCAR: Austin Cindric set to make Cup Series return

Austin Cindric, Team Penske, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Austin Cindric, Team Penske, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric is set to return to the Cup Series for this Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Defending NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric of Team Penske is set to move up to the Cup Series next season and compete for Wood Brothers Racing, which have a technical alliance with Team Penske, behind the wheel of the #21 Ford, and he is slated to make several starts at the sport’s top level for Roger Penske’s team this season ahead of his full-time debut.

He made his first career Cup Series start in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway last month behind the wheel of the #33 Ford. He was not guaranteed a starting position in the race due to the charter system but was able to qualify on time.

He led two laps of this 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked oval in Daytona Beach, Florida before being involved in the massive last-lap crash. He did not complete the final lap and was scored in 15th place.

Now he is set to return for another shot in the Cup Series this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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The 22-year-old Mooresville, North Carolina native is set to be back behind the wheel of the #33 Ford for this Sunday afternoon’s 325-lap race around the four-turn, 1.54-mile (2.478-kilometer) oval in Hampton, Georgia.

While the #33 Ford is not a chartered entry, he is guaranteed a starting spot in this race since only 39 cars are on the entry list. Based on NASCAR’s starting lineup formula, Cindric is set to start in 39th place.

The rest of Cindric’s Cup Series schedule for the 2021 season has not been confirmed. He is set to make this start coming off of an Xfinity Series victory at Phoenix Raceway, where he won in November to secure the 2020 title.

He has recorded six consecutive top five finishes going back to last season, including three wins, and he leads the point standings comfortably over Joe Gibbs Racing’s Daniel Hemric in second place. His average finish is a series-best 2.6.

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Tune in to Fox at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, March 21 for the live broadcast of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway.