NASCAR: 3 drivers not named Daniel Suarez who are on the hot seat

Daniel Suarez did his best to silence the rumors about his NASCAR Cup Series future with an incredible win at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Three others are looking to do the same.

Daniel Suarez, Austin Cindric, NASCAR
Daniel Suarez, Austin Cindric, NASCAR / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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No. 3 - Austin Cindric

Two races into the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, Team Penske's Austin Cindric finds himself one marker out of the points lead, and that's despite being taken out in a last-lap Daytona 500 crash that knocked him well over a dozen spots down the order. He is one of very few drivers who deserve an "A" grade through two races.

But he was the points leader after two races in 2022, and he only ended up qualifying for the playoffs thanks to his season-opening Daytona 500 win. He really hasn't done much since, and his performance dropped off considerably in his second season.

Cindric's fourth place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway was very much needed; he had recorded just a single top five finish since August 2022. Here's the problem: he has never finished in the top five at a non-drafting oval. All seven of his top five finishes have come in superspeedway/drafting races or road course races.

If he can't win on those types of tracks, will he improve enough elsewhere to justify being Team Penske's third driver? Keep in mind, this a team whose other two drivers have each won one of the two most recent two championships.

While team president Tim Cindric is his father, it has been well-documented that his involvement in the team has remained separate from Austin's rise to the Cup Series to avoid potential nepotism. Unlike other instances across various forms of motorsport, if he isn't cutting it, he is not guaranteed his seat because of his last name.

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Cindric may be one of the "good guys", but the seat inside the No. 2 Ford could very well heat up if he can't eventually bounce back from his post-2022 Daytona 500 struggles.