Austin Cindric of Columbus, Ohio is the 2022 Daytona 500 champion. At 23 years of age, Cindric becomes the second youngest Daytona 500 champion of all-time. The only Daytona 500 champion who was younger was Trevor Bayne of Knoxville, Tennessee, who was 20 years old, when he was victorious in 2011.
Cindric, who drives a Ford Mustang for Team Penske, won the 2022 Daytona 500 on a special day for his team owner. That is because it was Roger Penske’s 85th birthday on Sunday. It was the the third time that Team Penske won the Daytona 500. He previously won with Ryan Newman as the driver in 2008, and Joey Logano as the driver in 2015. It should be noted that Austin Cindric’s father Tim also has strong connections to Team Penske, as he is the Team Penske president. Al Pearce in autoweek.com describes Tim Cindric as “Roger Penske’s right-hand man.”
Tim Cindric won the Daytona 500 as a NASCAR rookie. He is considered a rookie even though he participated in the 2021 Daytona 500, (which was won by Michael McDowell) and finished 15th. Last season, Cindric was not a participant in the entire NASCAR season as he was only in eight races overall, and when he finished 15th at Daytona, he was ineligible for series driver points. Cindric’s best finish last season was a ninth place at the 2021 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard in Indianapolis. Interestingly, the Verizon 200 was the last race Cindric participated in during the 2021 NASCAR Cup series on August 15, 2021, prior to winning the Daytona 500. There is no doubt that the Brickyard is a special place for Penske, as he has won the Indianapolis 500 as an owner a remarkable 18 times, which is a record itself.
As always, the 2022 Daytona 500 had some spectacular crashes. One off the biggest was an eight-car crash at the beginning of the opening stage.
Cindric’s victory was also extremely close. He defeated his nearest competitor, Bubba Wallace, by .036 seconds.