Austin Cindric to drive No. 2 car in 2022; Harrison Burton to join Wood Brothers
Team Penske and Wood Brothers Racing announced driver changes for 2022 that include Austin Cindric and Harrison Burton.
Team Penske stated that Cindric will replace Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 after this season. Cindric had previously been tabbed to drive for Wood Brothers Racing next season. The ride became available with Keselowski’s yet-to-be announced move to Roush Fenway Racing for 2022 as a driver/owner.
The Wood Brothers announced that Burton will take over the No. 21 after this season.
The moves leave Matt DiBenedetto, current driver of the No. 21 for Wood Brothers Racing, out of a ride for 2022.
“Austin is a champion and has proven his abilities both on and off the track.” team owner Roger Penske said in a statement. “The Cup Series is a big step for any rookie but making this move now, in conjunction with the introduction of the new Next Gen 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.”
Cindric is the reigning Xfinity Series champion. He leads the points heading into Saturday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Cindric has 12 Xfinity wins for Team Penske.
Cindric, 22, joins Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano for Team Penske’s 2022 Cup lineup.
“Throughout my NASCAR career, I’ve grown a lot as a driver and an individual,” Cindric said in a statement from the team. “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.”
Team Penske also announced that long-time partner Discount Tire will remain a key sponsor with the organization moving forward on both the No. 2 of Cindric and the No. 12 of Blaney in 2022. The remainder of Cindric’s partner lineup will be announced at a later date.
Burton, 20, the son of former Cup driver and current NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton, is fifth in the Xfinity standings this season.
“Since I began racing quarter midgets, the hope and goal was always to become a full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup Series,” Burton said in a statement from the team. “Now, I get to do this with one of the most storied teams in NASCAR history in the Wood Brothers and with an association with Ford Motor Company and Ford Performance.
“I don’t think I could have dreamt of a better situation to put myself in when it comes to the start of my NASCAR Cup Series career. Add to that the technical alliance with Team Penske and the knowledge I’ll gain from working with their drivers and I’m really excited for 2022 and the future. This is a great opportunity for me and I can’t thank Eddie and Len Wood enough for giving me this chance.”
Wood Brothers Racing has 99 career Cup victories and its driver lineup has included NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson, Cale Yarborough and Buddy Baker, among others.
The Wood Brothers have a technical alliance with Team Penske and that will continue into 2022, the team stated. Sponsorship will be announced at a later date but will include support from Ford Quick Lane and Motorcraft.
“As a team owner, you always want to keep an eye for the future and what’s best for your organization in hopes to set yourself up for success long-term,” said team President and Co-Owner Eddie Wood in a statement.
“As things have progressed and changed over the last few months, we had the chance to look at what our options are and when we determined that Harrison would be available for our team, we wanted to jump at the opportunity to work with him. Harrison is young, but comes from a family full of successful race car drivers.
“The advice and support they can offer to Harrison as he makes this transition will be very important to his success. What a lot of us forget is that he is not even 21 years old yet and has only been racing in both the Truck Series and Xfinity Series for a couple of years. So when we looked at the future and finding someone to build our program around, Harrison seemed like a great option.”