Austin Cindric will compete in a full NASCAR Xfinity schedule for 2018, splitting his time between Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing.
The 19-year-old – who is nearing the end of a five-week, four-discipline racing schedule around the world – was previously scheduled to run nine events for Roush Fenway, including the season opener at Daytona and four of the first five races on the schedule, as part of a rotation of Ford development drivers to pilot the No.60 Ford Mustang. Cindric will drive either the No.12 or the No.22 Team Penske Ford in the remaining 24 races, including the four Dash for Cash events at Bristol, Richmond, Talladega and Dover.
“Just the experience of making the final four last season and getting to race for the Truck Series Championship at Homestead for [Brad Keselowski Racing] was truly special for me, but has made me determined to find a way to try and get in that position again,” Cindric said. “Now to have the opportunity to run for a Driver’s Championship this year in the Xfinity Series with both Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing is a dream come true. I know there’s a lot left for me to learn. That being said, it puts the ball in my court because I have such an incredible and unique opportunity in front of me to be surrounded by the experience of two very successful organizations and that is all a driver can ask for.
“Much like last season, I feel like it may take a little time to adjust, but I’m eager to get started on that journey. I just can’t thank Roger Penske, Jack Roush and everyone with Ford Performance enough for this opportunity.”
Cindric made his Xfinity debut with Team Penske at Road America, running in the top 10 for much of the race before a cut tire led to a 16th-place finish. He’s kept extremely busy – so far in 2018, he’s finished 30th in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (with Chase Briscoe), came home an impressive sixth overall at the Rolex 24 for JDC MotorSports, and is currently in Sweden for the inaugural “RX2 on Ice” rallycross races on February 1 and 10.
He returns home for the Feb. 17 Daytona Xfinity race and a week later will conclude his journey by running the Xfinity race at Atlanta for Team Penske.
“This season will without a doubt be a make-or-break year for me to understand if I am truly fit for a future in NASCAR racing,” Cindric told RACER in late January. “The Rolex 24 was a personal challenge [and] exercise to test myself if I am actually capable and ready to drive prototype race cars at the highest level in IMSA, and also to stay relevant in the ‘sports car world,’ not to mention it’s a great and rare opportunity in itself.”
When Cindric is in the No.12, he will work with the team’s new crew chief Matt Swiderski, who joined Team Penske during the off-season from Richard Childress Racing, where he worked as crew chief of the No.3 Xfinity team with drivers Ty Dillon, Scott Lagasse and Brian Scott in 2017. Previously, Swiderski was the head of vehicle performance at RCR for three seasons after also serving as race engineer for RCR teams competing in both the Xfinity and Cup series.
“This is a great opportunity to become a part of the winning tradition at Team Penske,” said Swiderski, who also worked for SpaceX, in 2012. “I’m really excited to team up with Austin when he’s behind the wheel of the No. 12 Ford while also working closely with [No. 22 crew chief] Brian Wilson. Our goal is to help the No. 22 team win another series Owners’ Title while working with Austin as he chases the Driver’s Championship.”