Austin Cindric says he’s thrilled to be a part of the strongest Prototype lineup in recent memory for next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The 19-year-old made his debut in the race last year with the 3GT Lexus program in the GT Daytona class, but now has made the step up to the top category in the fan-favorite “Banana Boat’ Oreca 07 Gibson for JDC-Miller Motorsports.
Cindric is slated to dive alongside Robert Alon, Simon Trummer, and Devlin DeFrancesco.
The son of Team Penske President Tim Cindric has been on the path to NASCAR in recent years, winning a race and finishing third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings last season, but has kept his toe in the sports car racing waters throughout his career.
Cindric said that when he assessed his options for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this year, it was obvious what class he wanted to race in.
“You look at all the big names that are with us: Penske, Joest, Alonso, all these huge names that have come over and for me, that’s what made doing the Prototype race so attractive,” Cindric told Sportscar365.
“Obviously finding the opportunity is really difficult. It was an on again, off again kind of deal there.
“I was really fortunate for [JDC-Miller Motorsports team owner] John [Church] to give me that opportunity over a quite a few different guys. I’m jut appreciative to be part of it.
“Obviously it’s a team that has proven they can be put up against the big dogs. I’m not sure outright pace is going to be our best but we know we can survive races, we can make it to the end.”
Cindric said the cockpit of an LMP2 prototype was a bit tighter than what he’s become accustomed to in a stock car, but added that he feels comfortable driving the car even if he’s a bit cramped in the seat.
“It’s a tight fit,” said the six-foot-two-inch driver. “I’m sitting on carbon and don’t have much of a seat insert. I tore up my knees pretty bad so it’ll be interesting to tough it out for 24 hours.
“But the cars are awesome. Everybody at JDC has done a great job.
“It’s a bit hard to tell where everybody is between tires an BoP and all the different factors but I think I got up to speed well and understood the car. We’re on the right track.”
While Cindric has raced against his father’s team in the past, the Rolex 24 marks the first time that father and son have competed against one another in the same class with Austin in the car and Tim calling strategy for one of the Penske Acura ARX-05s.
The younger Cindric said he has no qualms about trying to beat his old man when push comes to shove.
“None at all!” he said. “I’m here for my career and he’s here for his job.
“Whatever happens, we’re racing against each other but at the end of the day we’re all a bunch of racers.
“I worked with Ford last year and I was part of a Lexus TRD program last year, and we’re all just racers. Everybody just wants to win races and at the end of the day that’s what I’m here for.”
Cindric Relishing CTSC Role
Cindric will be pulling double duty at Daytona this year with a spot on the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge entry list in a Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 with fellow Ford NASCAR driver Chase Briscoe.
It marks a return both the team and the series for Cindric who raced for Multimatic in 2015.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s kind of like coming back home racing with Multimatic, with Scott [Maxwell], and being able to drive Mustangs.
“It’s how I got my start in sports car racing and it’s kind of cool to come to an environment that you know. I’ve been trying to give Chase as much track time as possible after shaking down the car.
“Chase has gotten up to speed really well and I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re in contention for a podium or a win.”
While Daytona is the only confirmed Continental Tire Challenge race for Cindric this year, he indicated that he would like to add an additional race if his NASCAR schedule permits it.