An exclamation point was placed on the 2022 DAYTONA 500 Tuesday when the Austin Cindric’s authentic race-winning Team Penske Ford was placed inside the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, where it belongs, until next year’s DAYTONA 500.
Prior to the 64th running of the DAYTONA 500 last month, it was announced that the DAYTONA 500 Champion car would not be placed inside the Hall of Fame, located just outside of turn four of the World Center of Racing, as a result of the unique situation with limited inventory of the new ‘Next Gen’ cars to start the season. Plans were in place to display a replica of the car through the 2023 DAYTONA 500, but Roger Penske, the owner of the No. 2 machine that Cindric guided to victory, had other plans – to keep the tradition that started in 1997 alive and ongoing.
“It’s an honor to have this car in this museum,” said Penske, who was on hand during the ceremony Tuesday afternoon. “This is a special car for us also. To see all the support we had for the DAYTONA 500 with the fans and our sponsors, and certainly a winning car, it should be in this museum.
“Supply chain was a big issue for us as we began the season. NASCAR sat down with us, and we worked out the details for our inventory going forward, and (now) we’re here (in the Hall of Fame). Having the first Next Gen Car in this museum is extra special. Big deal for us and the Next Gen car. Austin did a super job running it. At the end he was there. It’s always a car length or a half car length. We had to have the right car to win.”
Cindric’s triumph gave Penske his third Daytona 500 victory (Ryan Newman 2008, Joey Logano 2015) with the second and third both coming in seven-year-increments.
In a thrilling run to the finish in NASCAR’s points-paying debut of the new Next Gen race car, Cindric, the 23-yeaer-old NASCAR Cup Series rookie, held off Bubba Wallace and Chase Briscoe (.091 seconds behind) to notch his first Cup victory in his eighth start in the series.
“It’s awesome that the car is here. It’s where this car belongs. What an amazing accomplishment,” said Cindric. “Awesome to think I will be on that Hall of Winners (that showcases all DAYTONA 500 Champions inside Hall). It (the win) was the 50th Anniversary AJ Foyt’s DAYTONA 500 win, and he is one of my heroes, so to have my name there (Hall of Winners) is something special.”
The 65th Annual DAYTONA 500 is scheduled for February 19, 2023 (subject to change). For more information on the 2023 Great American Race, visit www.DAYTONA500.com.
Next up for the NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway is this year’s summer classic, Coke Zero Sugar 400, set for Saturday evening, August 27, which will serve as the last-chance, cutoff race for the premier series playoffs. By virtue of his DAYTONA 500 triumph, Cindric has guaranteed his spot in the battle for the season-long title. For ticket information on the Coke Zero Sugar 400, as well as the Aug. 26th Wawa 250 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, fans can log onto www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.