Austin Cindric to replace Brad Keselowski in No. 2 car at Team Penske for 2022 season

David Goricki
The Detroit News

NASCAR Cup team owner Roger Penske announced Thursday that 22-year-old Austin Cindric will be replacing former series champion Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Ford Mustang next season.

Keselowski, a 37-year-old native of Rochester Hills, expressed interest in ownership within Team Penske in past years, but was told that wouldn’t be an option.

Brad Keselowski

Keselowski, who earned Penske his first Cup series championship in 2012, has reportedly been interested in joining Roush-Fenway Racing with ownership in the deal for the 2022 season and beyond.

Keselowski has been one of the most consistent drivers in the series, owning 31 wins in the past 10 years —  starting with that championship season in 2012 —  the third most victories with active drivers during that stretch behind Kevin Harvick (40) and Kyle Busch (36) and just ahead of Martin Truex Jr. (29), Denny Hamlin (27) and Team Penske teammate Joey Logano (26).

“Getting to drive for Mr. Roger Penske in the No. 2 has been a tremendous opportunity, and I am so proud of the success we’ve had together,” Keselowski posted on his Twitter account. “His guidance has helped me both be a better competitor, but even more so a better man.

“When I first walked through the doors at Team Penske, the team had 65 Cup series wins and was on the hunt for their first NASCAR Championship. Over our years together we developed into a formidable force. Today, the team has more than 130 Cup series wins, two Xfinity Championships and two Cup series championships. I am so proud to have played a role in these wins and milestones.

“Looking to the future, I wish Austin and the team all the best in the next chapter. I extend my sincerest gratitude to the entire 2 crew for their commitment and work over the past 12-plus years. I know they will continue to do great things together with Austin at the wheel."

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Keselowski said he will be sharing what's next for him soon. He has won 34 of his career 35 races during this 12-year career at Team Penske, including four wins last season when he finished second in the Cup series championship to Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports.

Penske said during a news conference Thursday that he offered Keselowski a multi-year deal last season. Keselowski signed on for just the 2021 season to pursue ownership possibilities.

“He and I talked about this probably over the years, had discussions that long term that he’d like to have ownership of the team. But the way that we’re structured at Penske Corp and the subsidiaries that we have it wouldn’t work out and he understands that,” Penske said. “We had expected to get Brad in for another two or three years based on the term that he probably wanted to race.

“When you think about Brad, what he’s done for us, together with Xfinity and Cup, he has over 75 race wins and he’s the leader in the clubhouse from a team perspective. Our first Xfinity championships or Busch championship, the NASCAR champion and where he’s run in the playoffs here lately, couldn’t be a better guy.

“I have a lot to thank him for. He was a consistent performer, a very winning operation guy with our team. He was a student of the sport and we’re sorry to see him go, but on the other hand we have a season to finish out. This was not a disagreement, but a business decision that was made on both sides, and quite honestly Brad will be a friend of the family and a friend of the team forever. I think that he’ll bring a lot of value to Roush/Yates in the future.”

Keselowski currently sits 10th in points and locked into the playoffs with his win at Talladega. The Cup series will be making its way to Michigan International Speedway with the running of the FireKeepers Casino 400 Aug. 22.

Team Penske will showcase one of the youngest teams in the Cup series next year with 31-year-old Logano, 27-year-old Ryan Blaney and Cindric who is the son of Team Penske President Tim Cindric.

Austin Cindric

Austin Cindric won the Xfinity series championship in 2020 for Team Penske and has four wins in the series this season.

Cindric is thrilled to get the opportunity to drive the No. 2 car next season.

“It means a great deal and obviously driving the 2 car for Roger and Team Penske certainly comes with a great responsibility and a great heritage,” Cindric said. “I’ve obviously come a long way. It’s pretty exciting, so I’ve got a busy four months to try and put ourselves in position to win another Xfinity series championship.”

Penske has confidence in Cindric.

“I couldn’t be prouder to say that he’s going to be the driver of the No. 2 car and I think he’s earned the respect,” Penske said. “When you come in as son of the guy who is the president of Penske Racing, you probably command a little weight on your shoulder. But I can tell you one thing, as far as I’m concerned all that’s off. He’s proven to be the driver he is and the individual he is today. It’s a big step for him, but as far as I’m concerned the team, the sponsors are fully committed.”