Saturday, August 14, 2021

Cindric Hopes To Enjoy IMS View from New Spot This Weekend – Victory Circle

Cindric Hopes To Enjoy IMS View from New Spot This Weekend – Victory Circle

Leads Xfinity During Yesterday’s Practice; Will Start Race in Second


Team Penske stock car driver Austin Cindric will have one of the best views of Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend as he competes in both NASCAR road races, the Pennzoil 150 for the Xfinity Series on Saturday and the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard for the Cup Series on Sunday. Then again, Cindric is accustomed to great views at the Racing Capital of the World.


Cindric is the youngest of Team Penske president Tim Cindric’s two sons, and he has attended all but one Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge since Helio Castroneves captured his first “500” for Roger Penske’s team in 2001. Cindric’s only miss: Last year’s race, which was rescheduled due to the pandemic. He was competing in the Xfinity Series race in Dover, Delaware, that day, finishing third.


“We were sitting there in the media center after the Dover race, and all these people were trying to ask questions (about finishing third),” he said. “I was like, ‘No, no, there are 10 laps left (at Indy). We’re going to watch this, and then you can ask questions.’”



Cindric, 22, is as devoted to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ cornerstone event as any fan his age. He was 3 years old when attended his first “500,” and he has photographs of him on the front straightway to prove it. One of those shots of him was taken with the Borg-Warner Trophy, which nearly became memorable for the wrong reason.


“Apparently I almost knocked it over,” he said, laughing. “You’ll have to ask my dad about that one.”


Once Cindric became old enough to roam the grounds without direct supervision, he began searching for his own place to watch “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” He found it at the south end of the Gasoline Alley Suites, where he has stood to watch the past five or six races he has attended. Cindric likes the spot so much that he stakes out when the gates open at 6 a.m. on race morning, using zip ties to mark his spot.



That location affords him two views of video boards – one in front, one behind – along with a sightline to the exit of Turn 4 and another to the entrance to Turn 2. Yes, there usually are other people gathered in that location, but he has enough privacy to engage with the race as other fans do.


“I like being able to yell at (drivers) driving stupid or cheering for the ones I’m rooting for,” he said.


Cindric was forced into a viewing detour in May. His mother, Megan, asked him to watch the start of the race with her in one of the Pagoda suites, so he went to the elevators with a host of others for a ride up. For some reason, the elevator doors weren’t opening quickly enough, so Cindric, who knows many of the intricacies of the building, opted to take the stairs. However, the interior doors at several levels he reached were locked, leaving him frustrated and confused.


The mystery was solved when he retreated to the second floor. Opening the unlocked door, he saw Penske, who had just delivered the command to start engines, and his entourage walking toward the elevator being held for him.


“I thought to myself: ‘I’m going with him! I’m going where he’s going!’” Cindric said.


Penske’s destination was to the top of the Pagoda, where the height of the building offers a panoramic view of the massive facility. Cindric found himself alongside Penske, four-time “500” winner Rick Mears and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, along with a few others.


Cindric couldn’t express his fan emotions as freely as in his usual perch, but the view was worth it.


“It was the right spot – waaaaayyyyy better (than atop the Gasoline Alley suites) -- and I stayed there the whole race,” he said. “You can see the whole track from up there, and I’d love to do that again, but I don’t think I can pull that off every year.”


Cindric is in his fourth season as a full-time Xfinity Series driver, having won 12 races overall and last year’s series championship (he also is the current leader of the standings). Cindric figures to be a top contender to win either race – or both of them -- this weekend in a Team Penske Ford as he has four career Xfinity wins on road courses and has led laps in the Cup road races this season at Circuit of The Americas and Road America.


This will be Cindric’s seventh Cup Series start, all with Team Penske this season. He led two laps in the Daytona 500 and started third and fifth, respectively, at COTA and Road America.


He had two chances to race on the IMS oval in the Xfinity Series, suffering crash damage in 2018 and a blown engine while challenging for the win in 2019. Last year, he experienced the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course for the first time, getting the worst of the Xfinity Series’ thrilling, five-driver, late-race battle. He finished fifth.

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