Austin Cindric en route to victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday. (Al Steinberg photo)
INDIANAPOLIS – Austin Cindric’s win at the Pennzoil 150 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday may have been predetermined by his DNA.
Ahead of Saturday’s IndyCar Series Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix, Team Penske President Tim Cindric was reminded of his son’s pedigree. On his mother’s side, his grandfather was Jim Trueman, the winning team owner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1986. Father’s grandfather was Carl Cindric, a man who built engines for Herb Porter for the Indianapolis 500 at Speedway Engines, one of the long-time engine suppliers.
With such a pedigree, Austin Cindric has the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in its genetic makeup.
“He’d better get a win here,” joked Tim Cindric.
RESULTS: Pennzoil 150 at The Brickyard
That became a reality a few hours later when Cindric drove the No. 22 PPG Ford to victory in the annual NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It was Cindric’s fifth victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season. It also gave his father Tim and mother Megan something to be deeply proud of after seeing their son win at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“There is nothing bigger,” said Austin Cindric of the Brickyard win.
He defeated AJ Allmendinger’s Kaulig Racing Chevrolet No. 16 by 2.108 seconds.
Cindric sang “Back Home Again in Indiana” on his winning lap on the team’s radio, paying tribute to the famous traditional song that has been sung prior to the start of the Indianapolis 500 since the 1950s.
Justin Haley of nearby Winamac, Ind., Finished third in the Kaulig Racing # 11 Chevrolet, followed by NASCAR Cup Series star Chase Elliott, who replaced injured Michael Annett in the # 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
“I was sleeping today when I got the call and one of them was from Chad Knaus,” Elliott recalls. “Michael couldn’t drive today and it was an opportunity for me to do a few laps on a track that was new to me and I couldn’t turn it down.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I really appreciate having the opportunity to sit behind the wheel today. I thought I was a bit choppy and couldn’t find a good rhythm. We’ll see how it is tomorrow. “
Noah Gragson completed the top five in the No. 9 Chevrolet from JR Motorsports.
Cindric made sure his burnout wasn’t in the yard of bricks, but he left some characteristic gum on the front right after the big win.
Cindric climbed out of the racing car and walked over to the flagpole to collect the checkered flag for what was probably his favorite career win.
Ironically, the flag fell off the stick after Cindric waved it.
“Unbelievable,” said young Cindric. “First of all, I have to thank Roger Penske for every opportunity I’ve had in my career and for every opportunity he has given you racing fans to enjoy this lovely weekend of three racing series.” How great is this facility now, folks? It is amazing. I am so proud to be part of this Penske family with PPG and Ford and everyone who has put so much into my career. This circuit is so much deeper with my family history and what this place means to me. I can’t put into words what it means to win in Indianapolis. “
As for his interpretation of “Back Home Again in Indiana” …
“I didn’t even know I knew or remembered the words that well,” said Austin Cindric. “Hopefully I didn’t get Jim Nabors to turn around in his grave. I was here last time he sang that song and I get goose bumps every time. I am sure it applies to everyone else. I’m proud to be here, proud to drive for Roger and proud to win at the speedway. “
Team Penske swept both races on Saturday. Previously, Will Power had won the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix NTT IndyCar Series race. On Sunday, the Penske team will try to win the Verizon 200 at the brick factory.
Riley Herbst finished eighth in the race, 10 points ahead of Annett in 12th place in the Xfinity Series playoff race. Annett started the race 12th, but after handing the car over to Elliott, he is unlikely to make the playoffs.
Last season, the Xfinity Series made its first trip to the Indianapolis Road Course. In 2020, Indiana-born Chase Briscoe won the inaugural race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course after completing the top 5 from the 12th Haley, Gragson, Allmendinger and Cindric.
The runner-up Allmendinger was disappointed with the pole position after his start.
“Kaulig Racing needed a better driver today,” said Allmendinger. “I was just terrible today.”
Haley led 17 laps before finishing third.
“I’m really proud of third place,” said Haley. “Myself and AJ probably had the best cars today. This is my third race near my hometown and I am definitely proud of where I finished in each of these races. We had a good series of races to put some races together and get some momentum in the playoffs. “
He starred young Cindric on Saturday, adding the family name to the list of winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – a facility that meant so much to the late Jim Trueman and the late Carl Cindric.
“It’s every racing driver’s dream and it’s not just victory; but the ability to compete, ”said Cindric. “Every racing driver knows what this place means. My grandfather Carl passed away over the winter and I wish he were here today to see this today.
“A never-giving attitude helps a lot in this sport.”