Austin Cindric had an abysmal sophomore season this year with Team Penske. Both of his teammates won races, and Ryan Blaney won the Championship, so, Cindric going winless and missing the Playoffs by a large margin was not a good season. What does Cindric have to prove in 2024?

Can He Race Well on Intermediate Tracks and Short Tracks?

Austin Cindric has 15 career top-10 finishes with 6 career top-5s. Of those top-10s, only 3 of them have come on either short tracks or intermediate tracks with 0 Top-5s on those types of tracks. While his road course prowess and superspeedway skill are great to have, those types of tracks only make up 11 of the 36 races on the 2024 calendar.

That is just not good enough. On top of that, a lot out of a driver’s control can take them out of superspeedway races, so, relying on those is not generally a winning strategy. However, that skill set has a silver lining for Cindric.

The 2024 Cup Series Playoffs include two road courses and two drafting-style superspeedways, both tracks Cindric thrives at. However, just to get to those races as a Playoff driver, he has to consistently run well at intermediate and short tracks if he does not win a race. If he can improve on short tracks and intermediates, the schedule shakes out nicely for Cindric to make a deep Playoff run.

Can He Compete With His Teammates

While Penske was certainly not at its all-time best in 2023, both Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney found victory lane with Blaney winning at a variety of tracks including Talladega, Charlotte, and Martinsville. Team Penske is a perennial Championship winning organization, and Cindric will be judged by winning races and making consistent deep Playoff runs. As we already mentioned, the schedule works well for him to make a deep Playoff run.

However, whenever Cindric has been good, his teammates have been better at times. His best finish last season at Talladega, Ryan Blaney won. A top-10 finish at Martinsville was also a race that Ryan Blaney won. However, Cindric was the top-finishing Penske car in his other three top-10 finishes.

He has proven that he can outrun them on a good day, but, not consistently enough. His success will always be measured by how his teammates do. If he does not meet that standard, then he will be criticized for it.

Can Cindric Fans be Optimistic?

Cindric has two things working in his favor. First off, the Playoff schedule, as we discussed, favors a driver like Cindric. Secondly, he is in top equipment at Penske Racing. Of the second-year drivers in the Cup Series in 2023, Cindric has the best equipment to turn around his results for 2024.

He is in a position to turn around his career after a tough 2023 season. He is in good equipment, so it is all on him.