Team Penske announced today that Austin Cindric, the defending NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion and the current series points leader, will drive the famed No. 2 Team Penske Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series starting in 2022. At the same time, former NASCAR Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski will depart Team Penske at the end of the 2021 season to pursue other opportunities within the sport.
“Austin is a champion and has proven his abilities both on and off the track,” said team owner Roger Penske. “The Cup Series is a big step for any rookie but making this move now, in conjunction with the introduction of the new NextGen car, makes sense. He has gained valuable experience this year competing in a handful of races at the Cup level and he has shown that he belongs out there.”
Before today’s announcement, Cindric was planning to make the full-time Cup Series transition next season in the No. 21 for Wood Brothers Racing. Instead, Harrison Burton, a second-generation driver and four-time NASCAR Xfinity Series race winner, will pilot the renowned No. 21 Ford Mustang for Wood Brothers Racing beginning in 2022, the team announced today.
Cindric has earned 12 Xfinity Series wins for Team Penske and currently leads the series point standings and tops in wins, top 10s, stage wins and laps led. He has also made six starts in the Cup Series in 2021, leading laps in three of those events.
Cindric will join new teammates Ryan Blaney and former series champion Joey Logano to round out a strong NASCAR Cup Series lineup for Team Penske in 2022.
“Throughout my NASCAR career, I've grown a lot as a driver and an individual,” said Cindric. “There are so many individuals within the walls of Team Penske that have elevated me to a level that matches this opportunity. The support towards my development from Roger, Team Penske and all of our partners has been the leading factor towards race wins and a championship.
“The No. 2 car is iconic to this sport and is a number that represents the foundation of this team. It is a great honor and a great responsibility to continue that role. As 2022 gets closer, I am excited to embrace that. Until then, my focus remains on winning another Xfinity Series Championship.”
Burton will become the latest driver in a long list of legendary names that have piloted the No. 21 Ford for the Woods when he takes over the seat beginning at the 2022 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Thursday’s moves opened the door for Burton to make a jump to the NASCAR Cup Series full-time.
Burton, the son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver and current NBC race analyst Jeff Burton, has been a mainstay in NASCAR’s lower divisions since arriving on the scene in the Truck Series at just 18 years of age in 2019. In 2020, Burton won four races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (Fontana, Homestead, Texas and Martinsville) en route to a seventh-place finish in the final point standings and series Rookie of the Year honors. This season, the 20-year-old Burton has five top-fives and 11 top-10 finishes in 18 races and sits fifth in the Xfinity Series point standings.