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Austin Cindric competing full-time in Xfinity with Roush Fenway Racing, Team Penske

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Austin Cindric‘s rookie season in the Xfinity Series will be spent racing for both Roush Fenway Racing and Team Penske.

The former driver for Brad Keselowski Racing in the Camping World Truck Series will drive the No. 60 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing in nine races, including the Feb. 17 season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Cindric is splitting time in the No. 60 with Ty Majeski and Chase Briscoe.

He will be with Roush for four of the first five races of the season.

For the remaining 24 races he will drive the No. 12 or No. 22 for Team Penske. His first race with Penske will be the Feb. 24 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the No. 12, the team announced Thursday.

The 19-year-old driver is the son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric.

In the races Cindric will drive the No. 12, he will work with crew chief Matt Swiderski.

MORE: Austin Cindric among NASCAR drivers who competes in Rolex 24 at Daytona

Swiderski joined Team Penske after working on Richard Childress Racing’s No. 3 car in the Xfinity Series last year.

Prior to that, he was the head of vehicle performance at RCR for three seasons after serving as race engineer for RCR teams in both the Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“Just the experience of making the final four last season and getting to race for the Truck Series championship at Homestead for BKR was truly special for me, but has made me determined to find a way to try and get in that position again,” said Cindric in a press release. “Now to have the opportunity to run for a driver’s championship this year in the Xfinity Series with both Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing is a dream come true.

“I know there’s a lot left for me to learn. That being said, it puts the ball in my court because I have such an incredible and unique opportunity in front of me to be surrounded by the experience of two very successful organizations and that is all a driver can ask for. Much like last season, I feel like it may take a little time to adjust, but I’m eager to get started on that journey. I just can’t thank Roger Penske, Jack Roush and everyone with Ford Performance enough for this opportunity.”

Cindric made his Xfinity debut last year at Road America in the No. 22, where he started from the pole and finished 16th.

He has one Truck Series win in 29 starts, coming at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park last season.

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Social Roundup: NASCAR drivers enjoy last weekend of offseason

Elliott Sadler
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It might have snuck up on you, but the roar of NASCAR will return to full intensity next weekend when the Cup Series holds the Advance Auto Parts Clash and Daytona 500 pole qualifying on Sunday

But even after a week of testing by teams at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, there’s still one weekend off before teams head to Daytona Beach, Florida.

We’ve collected social media posts showing how drivers are enjoying their last weekend before Speedway begins.

Some drivers, including Kyle Busch, are spending it racing in another series.

A.J. Allmendinger’s team finishes second in class in Rolex 24 at Daytona

Michael Shank Racing
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A.J. Allmendinger got his 2018 racing season started with a podium finish in his team’s class in the Rolex 24 at Daytona over the weekend.

Competing for Michael Shank Racing, Allmendinger and his three teammates finished second in the GTD class.

The No. 83 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 was driven by Katherine Legge, Alvaro Parente, Trent Hindman and Allmendinger.

The team placed 22nd overall in the race that began Saturday afternoon.

Allmendinger, who competes for JTG Daugherty Racing in the Cup Series, extended his mark of leading every Rolex 24 he’s raced in during his overnight stent. He led 25 laps for the GTD class. Allmendinger has competed in the race 12 times. He was an overall winner in 2012.

“This might be the most tired I’ve ever been,” Allmendinger said. “It probably was not a wise call on my part not to run an air hose to my helmet. But this Acura NSX GT3 has been fun to drive. I love Michael Shank and I love this race team. The spotters especially, (Mike) Sweeney and Ben (Waddell), it was a team effort. That last stint, I was starting to get the chills inside the car. But this is what the Rolex 24 is all about: the last four hours you give everything you’ve got.”

MORE: Rolex 24: Action Express hang on for victory, Ganassi gets 200th win

Allmendinger wasn’t the only NASCAR driver taking part in the endurance race.

Austin Cindric, who will compete for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series, contributed to a sixth place in the Prototype class for JDC-Miller Motorsports.

Brendan Gaughan was part of a 42nd overall finish for BAR1 Motorsports. Driving a Multimatic/Riley LMP2, the team finished 14th in the Prototype class.

Xfinity drivers Ty Majeski and Cole Custer, competing with Scott Maxwell, placed third in the Grand Sport class for the Multimatic Race team in the four-hour Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race on Friday.

“It was a really fun race,” Custer said in a team release. “Doing the driver swaps, we weren’t perfect, but we were able to do them pretty quickly. It was a really strange but fun thing to do. I’m really glad Ford Performance is helping us get some more experience with road course stuff. It was a great race.”

Cindric and Chase Briscoe also competed in the race, but were relegated to a 22nd-place finish after a mechanical failure.

Ryan Reed ready to enjoy benefits of having teammates again

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Ryan Reed will have a trio of wingmen this season in the Xfinity Series after going two-thirds of last season without a teammate.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver was teammates with Darrell Wallace Jr. until Roush ran out of sponsorship money for the No. 6 Ford following the June race at Pocono, the 12th race of the year.

Reed’s reinforcements this season are Austin Cindric, Ty Majeski and Chase Briscoe. The three drivers will split time in the No. 60 Ford during the 33-race season.

Reed, who was eliminated from the playoffs last year after the first round looks forward to the benefits of having another Roush car in the field again.

“Just having a second car is helpful,” Reed said Tuesday during the NASCAR Media Tour. “You’ve seen it with organizations that have one-car programs and they have success, but for the most part, I think, it’s gonna be helpful just to have the second car.”

Briscoe and Cindric come to Roush after spending 2017 with Brad Keselowski Racing in the Camping World Truck Series. They each won one race while Briscoe was voted most popular driver and Rookie of the Year.

Cindric made one Xfinity start last season with Team Penske at Road America, where he started from the pole and finished 16th.

Majeski, a Roush development driver, made three starts in both Iowa races and the season finale at Miami. His best finish was 10th in Miami.

“I think having three fairly inexperienced drivers – at least in Xfinity cars – that will be different,” said Reed, who has two wins in his first four Xfinity seasons. “But I also think it will be good because Ty has had some NASCAR experience with Roush, but Chase and Austin come from different organizations, so it will be cool to see their mindset and be able to pull from their previous experience, and also Austin is going to be splitting time with Penske as well, so that will be really good information and a really good comparison as we go.”

The team will be led by long-time Roush crew chief Mike Kelley.

Kelly has 12 Xfinity wins since 2006. Eight of those came with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. from 2011-12.

“He kind of helped build that Xfinity program back when we had five or six Xfinity cars back in the day before I got there,” Stenhouse said Tuesday. “I think the confidence that he has as a crew chief in this sport and what he’s done carries over to the drivers as well. When he was working on our Cup cars, I felt like he was making sure he did everything he could to make sure that we had the most downforce last year every time we hit the race track and I had confidence in that.

“I think he’ll do that same thing for the three rookie drivers he has and I feel like out of any of the crew chiefs I’ve worked for, for a rookie I feel like he’s the one to do the job. He believes in all of them and if they can get things going and organize as quick as possible that they’ll be competing for some wins before it’s over with.”

 

On Tuesday, Roush announced the full driver schedule for the No. 60 Ford.

Cindric will be in the car for nine races, beginning with the Feb. 17 opener at Daytona. Cindric was chosen for the race from a drawing between the three drivers’ names last week.

Cindric’s races: Daytona I, Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Auto Club, Michigan, Daytona II, New Hampshire, Watkins Glen and Darlington.

Majeski and Briscoe will each get 12 starts.

Majeski’s races: Bristol I, Talladega, Dover I, Charlotte I, Iowa I, Kentucky, Road America, Las Vegas II, Richmond II, Charlotte II, Texas II and Phoenix II.

Briscoe’s races: Atlanta, Texas I, Richmond I, Pocono, Chicago, Iowa II, Mid-Ohio, Bristol II, Indianapolis, Dover II, Kansas II, Miami.

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Four young Ford NASCAR drivers to compete in IMSA opening weekend at Daytona

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Four of NASCAR’s up-and-coming young stars – all Ford drivers – will get a nearly month’s head start of sorts for the 2018 season opener at Daytona.

A pair of 23-year-olds, Chase Briscoe and Ty Majeski, and 19-year-olds Austin Cindric and Cole Custer will all compete in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge January 26, part of the Rolex 24 weekend (Jan. 25-28) at Daytona International Speedway.

The four drivers will be mentored by Scott Maxwell, who won the Continental series championship with co-driver Billy Johnson in 2016.

Maxwell will also compete in the event, which will feature the four young drivers being part of a two-car Mustang GT4 team in the GS class. The pairings of which drivers will drive with each other will be announced closer to the four-hour endurance event.

“We have an outstanding group of young drivers coming up and we feel putting them in this kind of environment with Scott Maxwell will benefit them for the rest of their careers,” Ford Performance Motorsports global director Mark Rushbrook said in a media release. “You have to be good on all types of tracks to compete for a NASCAR championship and this will give each of them valuable road course experience in our exciting Mustang GT4 with Multimatic Motorsports.”

Cindric, Briscoe and Majeski were recently named to share driving duties for the No. 60 Ford in the 2018 Xfinity Series for Roush Fenway Racing, in collaboration with Team Penske and Ford Performance.

Custer will enter his second full Xfinity season for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018.

The four drivers plus Maxwell will take part in a three-day test session at DIS from Jan. 5-7.

When asked about how much they’re looking forward to the opportunity, here’s what the five drivers had to say:

CUSTER: “I’m really excited about this opportunity. I’ve never done any endurance racing, but I’m looking forward to having some fun and learning what it’s all about. This is obviously a big race and great way to start the season. Being able to race with the other guys is going to be a lot of fun as well because we’re all pretty much the same age and have a lot in common. I never thought I would get the chance to do something like this, but road course racing has really grown on me. I think it’s fun to learn the different sides of things and this is going to be a chance for me to learn as a driver and make myself better.”

CINDRIC: “For me with my background some of my biggest moments in the early part of my career have been with Multimatic racing Mustangs in the Continental Tire Series, so for me I’m coming home. I come from a different background than the other guys and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun, learn a few things and hopefully bring home some hardware because I know those Mustangs are pretty strong around Daytona. Scott and I have become really good friends and he’s been a big help to me in my career and I look forward to being teammates with him again and having a little fun throughout the weekend.”

BRISCOE: “This is something I certainly never thought I would get an opportunity to do, but I’m super-excited for it. This will be something new and I’m going to do a lot of it this year, so I think it’s going to be a good learning curve. I’ve only run two road courses my entire life and even though we ran decent, I didn’t feel like I ever knew what I was doing. Hopefully, I can get to the point by the end of this year where I know what I’m doing on a road course. Even though I’ll be driving two different kind of race cars, the principals of how you drive and the technique it takes will be something I can learn. I’m also looking forward to having a teammate and competing in an event where both of you have an impact on how well you run.”

MAJESKI: “I have virtually no road course experience at all. I’ve been on one road course my entire life and that was this past summer when I was sent out to the Ford Performance Driving School in Utah. Outside of that, I have not been on a road course, so this will be great for me to get some experience and be around people who know a lot about it. I’m looking forward to working with Chase, Austin and Cole as well. They’re good guys and I’m excited for the opportunity Ford has put in front of us.”

MAXWELL: “The Ford Mustang GT4 has been a great project from the start, and I’m glad to get back in the seat in Daytona. It’s just a fun car to drive. I’m happy to work with the young NASCAR drivers Ford has signed up, too, to help these drivers get acclimated.”