Austin Cindric has high hopes entering Pocono Raceway this weekend. In his first full season in the Xfinity Series, the #12 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford has been near the top of the charts all weekend and Pocono may be a place for Austin to get his first Xfinity win and get in the Playoffs.
In a prerace interview with The Comeback, Cindric was confident in his car and know he has been knocking on the door of success.
“We’ve been pretty solid,” Cindric said. “Qualified third, I think we’re really strong in race trim today. We weren’t as trimmed out as some of the other guys so I’m pretty encouraged by that. It’s my third weekend in a row being P1 in the first round and not finishing off the second round so hoping to be able to close that gap up but it’s just about getting better every week for me and understanding more and more what it needs to do to get the job done.”
One notable unknown for the Xfinity Series this weekend is the restrictor plate package that has been seen in last month’s All-Star Race and at the Xfinity race at Indy last year. Cindric has only raced once at Pocono in the Camping World Truck Series, but the unique package is surely going to be different according to Austin.
“A part of me is cautiously optimistic with how it’s going to race from what I saw in practice,” Cindric said. “And a part of me is thinking it’s not going to be much different than regular Pocono which I personally really enjoy how Pocono is, how it was, but it’ll definitely be an interesting race. I think the restarts are going to be crazy for at least the first four laps. The big thing is to not get caught up into racing somebody because two cars in front of you is going to create a huge hole to draft up to. I think there’s going to be a lot of gains and a lot of people are going to need help and a lot of people are going to bail and it’s going to be a different dynamic, that’s for sure.”
Austin is in a unique situation where he is driving for three different teams. While he is racing a full season in the Xfinity Series, Cindric has three cars and that means three crews and three crew chiefs. When asked how that works and if there’s one he gels with best, Cindric notes that while he has done more with Brian Wilson, his unique situation and in a way is glad he has three crew chiefs with him at various times.
“I’ve known Brian [Wilson] a lot longer than Matt [Swiderski] and Mike Kelley so obviously I have a previous relationship there,” Cindric said. “Brian’s first win as a crew chief was with me in an ARCA car. My first win on an oval was with him in the same race. So obviously there’s a relationship there. Matt and I as well as Mike and I get along really well. There’s just different things about them that I think I get along with so it’s been a really cool experience. The fun stuff is that I get to walk out of the driver’s meeting and I’ve got all three crew chiefs side-by-side and we’re all just talking to each other [laughter]. Nobody else has that experience and it’s definitely a unique opportunity and it’s my job to take advantage of it.”
When looking back on the first half of the regular season, Cindric has been glad to get some good finishes and have made some progress that he thinks should make him a title contender this season. When asked to give himself a grade, he gave himself some room for improvement but gave himself a fair assessment.
“I’m not sure I’m allowed to give myself a grade [laughter]. I’d say it’s a B+ right now,” Cindric said. “Nothing that’s been overly over the top but at the same token I think we’ve had some strong runs and been able to prove that I belong where I am and I feel like I have the right path right now to be a championship contender by the end of the year.”
A win at Pocono would certainly vault Austin Cindric to the Xfinity Playoffs. Despite competing against some MENCS regulars like Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and his teammate Paul Menard, Austin has stayed competitive against all of them this weekend and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in Victory Lane.