Getty Images

From cap and gown to helmet and firesuit, today will be memorable for Austin Cindric

Leave a comment

CONCORD, N.C. — Austin Cindric will walk across a stage to receive his diploma and then walk into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage shortly afterward this morning.

“Off to the real world,’’ Cindric said.

The 18-year-old driver for Brad Keselowski Racing will graduate from Cannon School, a college preparatory school, and then make the short drive to Charlotte Motor Speedway for tonight’s Truck race. Today also is his mother’s birthday.

Cindric’s father, Tim, is president of Team Penske and serves as a race strategist for IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden. Tim Cindric will attend his son’s graduation before flying back to Indianapolis as the team prepares for next week’s Indianapolis 500.

Austin Cindric ranks 15th in the points after four races this season. He’s coming off his first career top-10 finish, a 10th-place result last weekend at Kansas Speedway.

“I didn’t think it was going to take me 10 (career) truck races to finish in the top 10 with the speed we’ve shown,’’ he said Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I feel like a lot of drivers go through the same things. I think I’m jelling really well with my team. I think it’s only a matter of time before we start being a threat.’’

As for additional education? Cindric says that could come later.

“I think education is extremely important,’’ he said. “Obviously, my parents would as well. It was kind of hard to convince my mom on the fact that I should focus on the racing deal.

“Really in NASCAR, or in many sports, or any other forms of racing, you only get one true shot at it. I feel this is it for me. I feel like a lot of NASCAR teams don’t look at you when you’re kind of past 21 or 22 years old. You’re still a young guy, but you’re not the young guy.

“So being 18 and being in the Truck series, I think is extremely critical. I need put every ounce of effort into making that better … learning as much as I can, being at the shop every day. I think it’s all extremely important. You can always go back to school. I’m fully prepared to go to college, and I think years on, whether the racing thing is going the way I want it to or not, I feel l’ll do some online classes and learn more.

“Racing is my full focus right now. I’ve got to make sure I can say that I’ve done all that I can to make sure that happens.’’

 and on Facebook

NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto on Indy success with small team

Leave a comment

Matt DiBenedetto has just three top-10 finishes in his three years of competing in the NASCAR Cup Series. But two of them have come this year in two of the biggest races in the sport.

DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 32 Ford for Go Fas Racing, finished ninth in the Daytona 500 in February and eighth in Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

DiBenedetto, who was also celebrating his 26th birthday, joined NASCAR America to discuss his run at Indy and what is considered a successful race for his team, which has 15 crew members.

“You’ve got to keep it in the perception of your versions of wins are a little bit different than everybody else’s version,” DiBenedetto said. “We look at it as who we’re racing around. I would say on a regular week where there’s not a ton of chaos like Indy was, a top 20 is a really good day. A top 25 is if we just do our job.”

Watch the video for the full segment.

Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger unveil Darlington throwback schemes

NASCAR
1 Comment

Both Chase Elliott and AJ Allmendinger have revealed the paint schemes they’ll drive in the Sept. 3 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Elliott will use his No. 24 Chevrolet to pay tribute to the car his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, drove in his first Cup start.

The light blue look was on his No. 9 car when he started in the Feb. 29, 1976 race at Rockingham Speedway.

The car was revealed on Facebook in the below video.

AJ Allmendinger will pay tribute to two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte with his No. 47 Chevrolet.

The car will resemble the No. 44 Piedmont Airlines Oldsmobile that Labonte drove in during the 198 Cup season when he competed for owner Billy Hagan.

NASCAR America: Felix Sabates: ‘I’m lucky to be here’ after near-death experience from illness last year

Leave a comment

For nearly a month last year Felix Sabates was at death’s door.

The fears were so great that Sabates might not wake up from a coma he spent 29 days in, Chip Ganassi bought a blue suit for the possibility he might have to attend his co-owner’s funeral.

But the 71-year-old made a full recovery through a rehab process that included learning to walk again.

NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty and Sabates have a special relationship. Petty drove the No. 42 car for Sabates’ SABCO Racing for eight years in the 1980s and 1990s, winning six of his eight Cup races for the millionaire owner from Cuba.

Sabates sat down with Petty to discuss the ordeal, which began in January 2016 when Sabates began feeling ill during the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I came home and woke up the next morning and I (couldn’t) breath,” said Sabates, who drove himself to the hospital. “The minute they saw me I was in intensive care.”

Sabates was in the hospital for two and half weeks before he was released, but Sabates “should’ve know I wasn’t cured.”

The Chip Ganassi Racing co-owner returned to his usual grind until it caught up to him in August.

“My blood pressure was through the roof, my oxygen level was 55, which you should be dead then,” recalled Sabates, who has no memory of a three-month stretch. “They thought was I was brain-dead. They were pretty much going to disconnect me. So 4 o’clock in the morning, they took my tubes out.”

That’s when Sabates began the process of waking up.

“I’m lucky to be here,” said Sabates, who aside from being back at the track is also back to playing golf.

“I used to worry about little things,’ Sabates said. “Now I don’t even worry about big things.”

The full feature will air Sunday on Countdown to Green, which begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN before the Cup race at Pocono.

NASCAR America: Ryan Blaney glad Team Penske news is finally out in the open

Leave a comment

On Wednesday it was finally announced that Ryan Blaney would move from Wood Brothers Racing to Team Penske full-time next year in the Cup Series in the No. 12 Ford while Paul Menard will take over the No. 21 Ford.

NASCAR America’s Dave Burns caught up with Blaney on Thursday. Blaney was happy that his 2018 plans were finally public knowledge.

Blaney also acknowledged how a technical alliance between the two teams helped Wood Brothers Racing return to a competition level that allowed Blaney to get his first Cup win this season earlier this year.

“That was a big deal,” Blaney said. “That was getting us to where we could run a full-time season. That was really helpful not only to me but to (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins, will be coming with me to the 12 car.”

Blaney has been driving for Team Penske part-time in the Xfinity Series since 2012.

“It’s been nice to get the news and tell everybody finally about what we’re doing,” Blaney said. “But mainly we’re trying to finish this year out strong with the Wood Brothers, getting their 100th win, that’s really big. That’s on my bucket list for this year and getting as far as we can in the playoffs.”

The No. 21 team returns to Pocono Raceway this weekend, the site of Blaney’s first Cup win last month.

Watch the video for the full interview.