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Among the 39 entries for Sunday’s race at COTA are two former Formula 1 champions – Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button, sportscar star Jordan Taylor and IndyCar driver Connor Daly.
Cindric, 24, in his second season in the Cup series driving Team Penske’s No. 2 Ford, had an extensive sportscar background, himself, before embarking on his fulltime NASCAR career.
While he began with an advantage on road courses from that experience, Cindric has won eight times on oval tracks in his NASCAR career, including the prestigious Daytona 500 last season.
He would like outsiders – especially international drivers – take on the challenge of racing ovals in NASCAR.
Jenson Button, Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang
Photo by: True Speed PR
“I’d love for it to be a gateway or catalyst to see guys of that caliber – they’re not just guys who come and do road courses, but they’re champions and world champions and were, or are, the best at what they do – coming and joining our racing,” Cindric said.
“I hope it’s a catalyst or gateway for them joining us on not just road courses, but oval racing as well. I mean, it’s so different, but I feel it challenges you in so many different ways. I’m looking forward to one of those guys getting the opportunity to go outside of their comfort zone and do just that.
“I know how big of a difference and culture shift it was for me. So yeah, I hope it’s a gateway for that.”
As a driver who would through his own unique path to fulltime NASCAR competition, Cindric said he enjoys seeing how other outsiders adjust to the stock car version of racing.
“It’s (a) wacky way of doing things probably in comparison to what they’re used to. It’s a lot of fun and fun to see the growth of someone who’s trying this for the first time,” he said.
“I’ve been in this sport for what I would consider a limited amount of time, and the things that were new to me and strange to me are probably strange, new or different for someone else. It’s fun to see what those different, strange, awkward moments are for other people as they’re trying to learn.
“I think it’s fun for the race fans as well. Guys like that who are extremely established, I would expect probably every single one of them in a certain respect to have some pace this weekend.”
Cindric will be looking to kickstart his 2023 season with a strong performance at COTA.
While he is 11th in the series standings, he has just one top-10 finish (sixth at Las Vegas) in the season’s first five races.
“I’d say the first couple of races were a bit frustrating for us – just getting put into the wall three weeks in a row is just not going to be good for points,” Cindric said. “From that standpoint, last weekend was definitely our best points weekend in Atlanta.
“I’d say, the points are also extremely tight right now because everyone is kind of having that up-and-down trying to find that footing. That’s where going into this year, I really thought you’d see the same parity and the same up-and-down performance, trying to find our consistency.
“That consistency is huge for being in control of your own destiny points-wise. I’m still of the belief that you’ll have to win a race to feel comfortable as far as playoffs are concerned.”