Austin Cindric looking to hit the “reset button” at COTA

Although he has three top 10 starts in five races this season, Cindric’s  fourth place finish at Atlanta is his only finish better than 22nd and finds himself mired in 21st in the series standings.

Cindric and his No. 2 Ford team have had speed, they’ve just not been able to get through most races to demonstrate their full potential. He’s been caught up in accidents at Daytona and Phoenix and fell victim to a corded tire last weekend at Bristol.

This weekend’s race at Circuit of the Americas presents series drivers their first road course test of 2024 and the use of NASCAR’s new short track/road course aero package, which was first run at Phoenix two weeks ago.

Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Discount Tire Ford Mustang

Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Discount Tire Ford Mustang

Photo by: Danny Hansen / NKP / Motorsport Images

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to kind of get back on track and hit the reset button,” said Cindric, 25. “The last couple of weeks have been pretty funky with getting knocked out the first couple of laps at Phoenix and then obviously last week’s craziness and all the tire failures that we experienced.

“I’m kind of excited to just get back going and hopefully a lot of green flag running. It’s been a place that we’ve had some good pace. We obviously have to adapt to the new package, but I’m excited to go hit the reset button and get after it.”

Cindric has extensive road racing experience from sports cars and owns a combined six road course wins in NASCAR’s Xfinity and Trucks series.

He has yet to win a road race in Cup – his only series win so far was in the 2022 Daytona 500 – but he has run competitively.

Cindric will be making his fourth series start at COTA and trying to extend a streak that has seen him qualify in the top 10 for the race every season. He has back-to-back top 10 finishes as well with his best effort coming last season (sixth).

“The last two weeks have been wildly out of the control of what I feel like our race team is capable of in a few different ways, but as far as COTA stacks up for me, no matter how you cut it, it’s been a race track that I’ve been able to be competitive at and lead laps every time I’ve been there in a Cup car,” Cindric said.

“Personally, it’s not necessarily my favorite race track, to be honest, but it’s somewhere that we’ve performed well. We seem to have a package that works well there and after the last couple of weeks I’m very hungry to just execute and everyone get to do our jobs.”

COTA ‘has everything’

Cindric said the issues of the last couple weeks – getting wrecked out early at Phoenix and the unexpected tire wear situation at Bristol – makes it difficult to pinpoint some areas that he and his team need to improve.

What they may need most may be simply a clean, uneventful race.

Still, Cindric says COTA presents a tough challenge, even for those with road racing backgrounds.

“I think it has everything – every type of corner imaginable. High speed, low speed, lefts and rights, braking zones, medium speed corners,” he said. “You go through the whole gearbox.

“There is some tire wear. We’ve got some patches in some places, but if anything, that will make the tire wear maybe a little bit less, and I also don’t feel like this tire necessarily wears any more than any of the rest.

“It is somewhat of an abrasive race track, so past that, it’s just got everything in it and you just have to have the complete picture to be competitive there.”

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