2020 Season in Review: Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric

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Austin Cindric

CREW CHIEF: Brian Wilson

TEAM: Team Penske

POINTS: First in Xfinity Series

WINS: Six (Kentucky I and II, Texas I, Road America, Daytona – Road Course, Phoenix II)

LAPS LED: 947

TOP 5s: 19

TOP 10s: 26

POLES: Three (Daytona – Road Course, Dover I, Martinsville)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Cindric set the tone for his successful run to the Xfinity Series championship with a streak of five wins in six races during July and August. But the 21-year-old had been knocking on the door for some time. He posted seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes over the season’s first 13 races before starting his tear with a doubleheader sweep at Kentucky – which made him the first driver to win races in the same series on consecutive days since Richard Petty in 1971 (July 14-15, Cup Series).

Cindric breezed through the first round of the playoffs, but a crash in the second round opener at Kansas led to a 28th-place finish and put his title hopes in jeopardy. Subsequent finishes of fourth at Texas and 10th at Martinsville were enough to get him to the Championship 4 at Phoenix. In the finale, Cindric pitted for fresh tires under caution prior to overtime, and charged from third place on the subsequent restart to take the race win and the championship.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Truthfully, there wasn’t much that went wrong for Cindric. He suffered four DNFs, but only one over the season’s final 21 races. Going back to his streak of five wins in six races, it could’ve been six victories in a row if not for Brandon Jones’ overtime rally at Kansas.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2021: Next season, Cindric gets a glimpse of his future. As part of a multi-year extension with Team Penske, he will compete in select Cup Series races on top of defending his Xfinity Series title. In 2022, he will make the jump to Cup full-time as driver of the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford.