NASCAR: Daytona 500 champion embraces unique role in iconic partnership

2022 Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric is excited to represent Keystone Light as a part of Team Penske's long-standing NASCAR partnership with Molson Coors.
Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Keystone Light, NASCAR
Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Keystone Light, NASCAR / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Molson Coors has had a partnership with Team Penske since the 1980s, and that partnership is still going strong to this day on the No. 2 Ford with Austin Cindric behind the wheel.

Cindric, the Daytona 500 winner in his first full NASCAR Cup Series season with Roger Penske's team back in 2022, has carried on the legacy of the "Blue Deuce" through his promotion of the company's Keystone Light brand throughout his Cup Series career, and he is set to continue his role in partnership this weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Team Penske recently revealed Cindric's paint scheme for All-Star Race weekend, with the iconic "Stars and Stripes" design donning the Keystone Light-sponsored No. 2 Ford at the four-turn, 0.625-mile (1.006-kilometer) North Wilkesboro, North Carolina oval, and the 25-year-old is excited to get out on the race track.

"When I first think of the car that I drive, the No. 2 car, you think of that relationship that’s been so many years with Team Penske and Molson Coors and having the blue Deuce," Cindric told Beyond the Flag.

"To get to drive this car every once in a while, it's special for me, it’s special for the guys on the team, and we have a special paint scheme this weekend. The Stars and Stripes on the car kind of match their branding for their packaging this year. And it's a good-looking car, so I think all those things piled together definitely get you excited to go racing this weekend."

On the subject of brand activation, Cindric has one goal in mind.

"I think the best activation that I can do is to win races and crack open a Keystone Light in victory lane!" he exclaimed.

Austin Cindric previews NASCAR All-Star Race

Cindric is not among the 17 drivers locked into Sunday night's 200-lap main event, as he is not a former Cup Series champion, a former All-Star Race winner, or a Cup Series race winner from 2023 or 2024. He is one of 20 drivers set to compete in the preceding 100-lap All-Star Open; the top two from that race advance to the big show, as does the winner of the NASCAR Fan Vote.

"I think qualifying is going to really determine a lot of that," he said when asked about his prospects of advancing from the All-Star Open to the All-Star Race.

In the point standings, Cindric sits in sixth among the 20 drivers set to take part in the All-Star Open (20th overall), so he is right on that bubble among the favorites.

"I would say out of the field of guys who are in the Open, I think the only guy to me who really stands out would be Ty Gibbs, for a number of reasons," Cindric said of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

"One, he's had a really strong year, and Toyota's performance on short tracks has been really strong. But he also got to do the tire test out there, so he's got a ton of laps."

But he knows that Team Penske have similar data to work with, and as the only one of the three Team Penske drivers in the Open, that should play to his advantage.

"Joey [Logano] was able do the tire test for us, so we do have a good amount of data to lead into it," he continued. "But past that, I think it's slim margins. The top two of those of those guys advance, so you're going to have to be good, you're going to have to earn it, and I think track position, just like it is every week, is going to be really important.

"Figuring out what you need really quickly on Friday night in practice, because we roll into qualifying right after that, is going to play a huge role for us Sunday afternoon."

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Fox Sports 1 is set to provide live coverage of the All-Star Open from North Wilkesboro Speedway beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 19. Live coverage of the All-Star Race itself is set to begin at 8:00 p.m. ET. Start a free trial of FuboTV and don't miss it!