Austin Cindric made history at the Daytona 500 on Sunday, becoming the first rookie and second-youngest driver to win The Great American Race. And with the race being the first of the 2022 Cup Series Season, the next question is what's next for the 23-year-old? PopCulture.com recently caught up with Cindric who detailed the goals he has for the rest of the year.
"Even before this past weekend, I haven't really made any concrete goals for the season past whether it's team communication, things I want to learn, identifying strengths or weaknesses," Cindric exclusively told PopCulture. "I still think all those things are in play for me but I just want to be a contender as often as possible and find out what that takes and really measure myself against some of the best drivers in stock cars in the world. So for me, that's still I think the mindset I still think it has to be but certainly sets it off on a good note when you can say that you've won the first race of the year, won the Daytona 500, and were even leading the points."
This is Cindric's first year competing in the Cup Series full-time after having a lot of success in the Xfinity Series. In 2021, Cindric competed in seven Cup Series races, including the Daytona 500. In that race, Cindric finished 15th out of 40 drivers. When talking about the 2021 Daytona 500, Cindric said finishing 15th gave him a "confidence boost."
"We ran up front almost the majority of the race and in my first Daytona 500 last year," Cindric said. "So, I think that gave me at least a great perspective on what the competition level is, and what different drivers do but also the strength, like I said, already strengthen the team, strengthen our cars and a lot's changed since last year as far as my experience, but also my position, last year I had to race my way into the show. I wasn't guaranteed a spot because I wasn't running full-time for points."
Winning the Daytona 500 is big, but Cindric is looking to do something very few drivers have done, which is winning in Daytona and the Cup Series title in the same season. "I think last year you saw there was only one car that made it in on points," Cindric said. "So, leading up to last weekend, I thought anyone that wanted to be in the playoffs this year has to win a race. And for us to already have done that obviously, secures us that spot.
"I think that having a shot is awesome but you need more playoff points. So if we're able to win stages throughout the year, if we're able to be aggressive and try and win races, whether if that's with our strategy or just with the setup of the race car, I think we have that freedom to go chase playoff points, because once you get to the playoff, that is so much easier when you do have those playoff points."