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Austin Cindric, Team Penske Honoring Breast Cancer Warriors With Special Freightliner Scheme

Austin Cindric breast cancer awareness Freightliner car 2023 Team Penske Homestead-Miami Speedway #FreightlinerGoesPink
Austin Cindric breast cancer awareness Freightliner car 2023 Team Penske Homestead-Miami Speedway #FreightlinerGoesPink
The special #FreightlinerGoesPink paint scheme returns for Austin Cindric and the No. 2 Team Penske group this weekend at Homestead. Cindric will handwrite breast cancer warriors names that will go on the car’s decklid. Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove, NKP, Courtesy of Ford Performance

Austin Cindric, who is closing out his Sophomore season in the NASCAR Cup Series, will have a special paint scheme in this weekend’s 4Ever 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Cindric will pilot the No. 2 Freightliner Ford Mustang for Team Penske, but the car many have dubbed the “Tron” car will have a special look as the bright blue lines on the scheme will be replaced with bright pink to spread breast cancer awareness.

“It’s been really fun. I think the Freightliner paint scheme that we run on the No. 2 car is definitely a fan favorite,” Cindric explained in an exclusive interview with TobyChristie.com. “Obviously, changing the colors on it, everyone noticed last year going into Homestead. Just trying to figure out a way that we can kind of level that up.”

While the #FreightlinerGoesPink initiative started with a special pink version of the paint scheme last season at Homestead, this season, Cindric and his team are going a step further to make the paint scheme special this time around, as the decklid of the car will feature the names of several breast cancer warriors.

Here are the handwritten name decals that are on the deck lid of the No. 2 #FreightlinerGoesPink Ford Mustang for this weekend. Photo credit: Team Penske

“Breast cancer awareness month and the month of October is obviously really important to a lot of people, a lot of people are affected,” Cindric said. “How can we not just run a cool-looking paint scheme, but how can we upgrade that to really honor those breast cancer warriors out there? We have some names on our car for the weekend that we’ll be honoring through the hashtag #FreightlinerGoesPink. Really cool to have names on the race car, but internally from a Freightliner perspective having people that are supported. Really fun, and meaningful for us to do that on a great-looking race car.”

As a unique touch, Cindric will personally write the names of each breast cancer warrior, and the hand-written names will be turned into decals that will be placed on the car. Cindric just hopes everyone can read his chicken scratch.

“Yeah, that was a piece that I didn’t know about,” Cindric laughed when asked about the hand-written names. “The handwriting portion, I think my mom will probably be more judgmental than anybody else. Hopefully, I didn’t botch anything too bad. I guess more of a personalized touch to the whole program to have it that way on the decklid. Hopefully, it’s all still really legible.”

While Cindric says he hopes that all of the names are legible, he didn’t spend too much time working on his penmanship. Cindric says he handwrites his post-race debrief notes, so it’ll be a funny inside joke for his team members to have to see his handwriting on the physical car itself.

“I actually handwrite all of my post-race reports still. I don’t know, there’s something about having a piece of paper that keeps you a little more accountable for getting the job done right,” Cindric stated. “My guys give me a hard time about it though because I always have to scan them in because we use One Note and different things. My guys are used to reading my handwriting, or lack thereof, and you also don’t have spellcheck when you’re handwriting. So sometimes there are some uniquely worded words in those debriefs. Don’t have that problem with this deal, but they’ll all find it funny that my handwriting will now be on the race car.”

Cindric doesn’t have any personal experience or loved ones who have battled breast cancer, but he says that he feels it is important to not just slap some pink on the car and call it a day. The driver, his team, and his sponsor truly want to make the program a unique experience for those that they’re honoring.

“It’s an opportunity for us to really highlight some people, not just the awareness, but highlight some people who are going through the struggle, or have gone through that. I think it makes it that much more meaningful of a program,” Cindric said.

Cindric won the season-opening Daytona 500 in his rookie NASCAR Cup Series season, which secured his place in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He would go on to finish an impressive 12th in the championship standings last year.

This year, things have been a bit more of a struggle for Cindric and his No. 2 team. However, the Freightliner Goes Pink program helps him put into perspective that a bad day on the race track is nothing compared to a bad day in the real world.

“We get to drive race cars for a living and live in our own little world,” Cindric said. “The real life is, I’d say most of the time we are not overly affected by what is going on in the real world. That’s a very real-world situation for a lot of people and a lot of families. Definitely a reality check sometimes when you’re having a bad day with things like that.”

While it has been a tough second full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series for Cindric, who missed the Playoffs, he is encouraged by a recent uptick in performance on the track.

The 25-year-old scored his first top-five finish of the season a few weeks ago with a fifth-place effort at Talladega Superspeedway. The following week, at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, Cindric had great speed and was well on his way to a top-10 finish, when he was swept up in an incident not of his doing.

He didn’t get the finish at the ROVAL, but the speed was there, and that’s important as he attempts to build momentum for 2024.

“It’s been nice to have a few solid weekends, to your point definitely [I’m] not leaving the ROVAL overly satisfied or very happy with how the world works, but that’s just racing,” Cindric explained. “The speed and the ability to execute I think has been pretty strong over the last two weeks. And I look at Darlington as a race that was pretty good for us from a speed standpoint.

“Internally, I see a lot of reasons, a lot of positive momentum on why that is for our group. The more that we can build for 2024 and get a process nailed down, that’s kind of why we have made the transition that we have through the course of the Playoffs. And we’ll have a good notebook for a lot of Playoff races for next season, and the goal is very much to be a part of that.”

While the Chevrolet and Toyota teams enjoyed a new design for their Next Gen bodies this season, the Ford Mustang will not see upgrades until the 2024 season. A lot of the stumbling out of the gates for the blue oval teams could possibly be attributed to the other manufacturers improving their aero designs for this season.

Cindric says his team is excited to see how the new changes to the Mustang will perform next season.

“Yeah, it’s definitely been a big topic of conversation, especially in the background,” Cindric admitted. “There are a lot of folks who are dedicated to working on that. I think this year is a perfect example. I always say when people ask me about having practice or just going straight into the races when we had COVID, and you would just show up with your setup and you’d just go race. Practice is an opportunity to get worse. It’s not guaranteed to make an adjustment and it’s going to make the race car better.

“I feel like the things we adjusted on as a group with our body for 2023, I think there are things we made better, and there are definitely things that were worse or seemingly more important that were undervalued. Other teams or manufacturers made gains in other areas that are seemingly more important.”

While Cindric is excited about the new Mustang body, he isn’t getting himself too wrapped up in it just yet.

“We wouldn’t be making a change that was a negative in any area. A lot of what I’ve seen definitely supports that. We’ve definitely made some gains. Looking forward to seeing what that’s all about and what we have to do as a race team to adjust to once we have our hands on those cars in 2024,” Cindric said. “Definitely excited about that, but a little too far in the future for me to be overly focused on.”

While he’s hopeful for a big turnaround in 2024, Cindric will continue battling to the end of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season in an effort to help his teammate Ryan Blaney reach his first-career NASCAR Cup Series championship, and to set himself and his No. 2 team up to come out of the gates swinging with momentum next year.

Catch Austin Cindric in the No. 2 #FreightlinerGoesPink Ford Mustang in the 4Ever 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, October 22nd. That race will be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 2:30 PM ET. The Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the radio broadcast of the event.

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