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Austin Cindric: International drivers should try NASCAR oval racing

Austin Cindric is enthused by the influx of Formula 1 and sportscar talent in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Circuit of the Americas, but wants to see it elsewhere too.

Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Menards/Knauf Ford Mustang

Among the 39 entries for Sunday’s race at COTA are past Formula 1 champions Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button, Le Mans 24 Hours class winner Jordan Taylor and IndyCar racer Connor Daly.

Team Penske racer Cindric, the 2022 Daytona 500 winner, had an extensive sportscar background himself before embarking on his full-time NASCAR career.

While he began with an advantage on road courses from that experience, Cindric has won eight times on oval tracks in his NASCAR career, including the prestigious Daytona 500 last season.

He would like outsiders – especially international drivers – take on the challenge of racing ovals in NASCAR.

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“I’d love for it to be a gateway or catalyst to see guys of that calibre – they’re not just guys who come and do road courses, but they’re champions and world champions and were, or are, the best at what they do – coming and joining our racing,” Cindric said.

“I hope it’s a catalyst or gateway for them joining us on not just road courses, but oval racing as well. I mean, it’s so different, but I feel it challenges you in so many different ways.

“I’m looking forward to one of those guys getting the opportunity to go outside of their comfort zone and do just that.

“I know how big of a difference and culture shift it was for me. So yeah, I hope it’s a gateway for that.”

Jenson Button, Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang

Jenson Button, Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang

Photo by: True Speed PR

As a driver who would through his own unique path to full-time NASCAR competition, Cindric said he enjoys seeing how other outsiders adjust to the stock car version of racing.

“It’s [a] wacky way of doing things probably in comparison to what they’re used to,” said the series sophomore, who has scored just one top-10 finish (sixth at Las Vegas) in the season’s first five races.

“It’s a lot of fun and fun to see the growth of someone who’s trying this for the first time.

“I’ve been in this sport for what I would consider a limited amount of time, and the things that were new to me and strange to me are probably strange, new or different for someone else.

“It’s fun to see what those different, strange, awkward moments are for other people as they’re trying to learn.

“I think it’s fun for the race fans as well. Guys like that who are extremely established, I would expect probably every single one of them in a certain respect to have some pace this weekend.”

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