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Racing

Austin Cindric Wins for Craziest Offseason

Austin Cindric will forever be introduced as a Daytona 500 winner, but that doesn’t mean the 24-year-old driver receives special treatment when it comes to life’s idiosyncrasies.

Since winning last year’s prestigious season opening event, Cindric has served on a murder trial jury and been locked out of his family’s motor home.

Initially, the summons for jury duty arrived two weeks after his Daytona 500 victory. The attorney for team owner Roger Penske sent a letter requesting a deferral and provided the weeks when Cindric would be available. He received another jury summons in December 2022.

“I had to serve on a jury for a week-and-a-half in December on a … murder trial,” Cindric said. “It was a good life experience, horrible timing.”

Cindric said he was juror No. 5 and juror No. 4 was a Roush-Yates employee. The jury returned a guilty verdict. Cindric said he didn’t want to be the foreman because he didn’t want them saying the Daytona 500 champion gave the guilty verdict.

Two months later Cindric arrives in Daytona for Speedweek to find his parents’ Airstream locked with the keys to it inside.

“My dad brought it down here for the Rolex (24) and organized it with the track to let us keep it here so we don’t have to go back and forth,” Cindric said.

“It’s only two or three weeks away, so in between miscommunications, there’s really only one full set of keys and that full set of keys ended up being locked in the trailer on purpose.

“I didn’t quite know that at 8:30 at night. I had a partial set, but it only does the dead bolt and a few other things. Nobody knows where the keys are, so the sleeping bed is in the front of the trailer, and I know it’s on a hinge because last year I was having to find fuses under there. I was like, ‘All right, if I can crawl in there and get enough leverage to push up on the bed, I should be able to crawl. out.’”

Harrison Burton, left, played a role in one of Austin Cindric’s offseason adventures.

Chris GraythenGetty Images

That’s when Cindric decided he needed help, so he called Wood Brothers Racing driver Harrison Burton, who’s smaller in stature.

“Harrison comes over and I’m trying to figure out how to lift myself in without breaking the latch and all this other stuff because my dad would kill me,” Cindric continues with a laugh. “I had Harrison pick up my legs and shove me in and, from there, I realized I didn’t have near enough leverage to pick up a bed because the hinge is here and there’s about a foot gap I would be able to get in if I lifted the bed up all the way. I was doing more to pick up all of the other structure around me than the actual bed, so that was a problem.

“So, then we decided it was a good idea to take off the panel that separates the bed, so we took out like 20 wood screws and that couldn’t pull off because it was stuck on something else. About that time, enough people on the team and pops had called me and said, ‘Look, the keys are inside, so whatever you’re doing to break in, just keep going.’

“So, I tried to take up the panel and couldn’t do it, so we tried to lift up on the whole thing to see what was keeping the panel from coming off and as I lifted up, some of the panels kind of moved and shifted the bed forward and there was a bit of a hole. I’m like, ‘All right, Harrison is there enough room for you to crawl in if I keep lifting up?’

So, I lock out my arms and Harrison shimmies through the hole on the side of the bed. Harrison brought out the keys. The bed is still stable.”

This occurred after Cindric’s rental car arrived two hours late at the airport.

“It’s a good start,” Cindric said with a laugh.

Corey LaJoie has been solid on superspeedways and is a driver to watch at Daytona.

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Chess With 3,600-Pound Chunks of Metal

Corey LaJoie possesses a knack for superspeedway racing, a trait that’s not plentiful in NASCAR.

In four full-time Cup seasons, he’s recorded three top-10 finishes at Daytona, one at Talladega and was on the verge of collecting his first victory last spring on the reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway, which produces superspeedway style racing. Throughout an event, he usually races in the top 15. So why does he excel at the style of racing that most drivers would prefer to ignore?

“It’s the equalizer a bit,” LaJoie said Wednesday during Media Day at Daytona International Speedway. “You can use some common sense and some brains to find yourself there at the end. It’s like chess with 3,600-pound chunks of metal.

“You don’t have to have the fastest car. It doesn’t matter how slow your car is, you can kind of find the right ways to position yourself.”

Ryan Preece is in good with the crew back at the shop.

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Ryan Preece Is In Good with the Crew, without Turning a Wrench

Before securing a full-time NASCAR Cup ride with Stewart-Haas Racing, Ryan Preece was known as a tough Modified competitor who worked on his own race car. Even though he doesn’t work on his Cup car he believes the fact his crew knows that he’s a capable mechanic there’s a respect there that might not exist with someone else.

“Whether it’s the fab shop, the paint shop, the floor guys, the parts room, everybody, they see me around,” Preece said. “I’m there pretty much every day. They see it. I’m right there with them. I feel I’ve earned their respect.

“This is not my job or my place to go and take somebody’s wrenches out of their hands and go do it for them. But they have a respect for me because they know that I’m more than capable of doing it.”


nascar cup series 65th annual daytona 500 media day

AJ Allmendinger says he might have a pretty good book in his future.

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For AJ Allmendinger, Life’s A Story

A.J. Allmendinger says when he moved from open wheel to NASCAR Cup racing with Red Bull in 2006 he could never have imagined all of the twists and turns his career would take.

“I’m just trying to write a good book,” Allmendinger said with a laugh. “I’m at a point in my life now where you just don’t take it for granted.”

Allmendinger said when he was competing in IndyCar he once wrecked twice in two laps. When his engineer asked him what he was doing, Allmendinger said he was “trying to figure out what the hell I was doing with my life.”

The engineer laughed and told Allmendinger it was “just stories.”

“He said, ‘Think about it, A.J. When we get to the end of our life what do we have?’” Allmendinger recalled. “’We’ve got stories. Some are really good. This week, probably not that great of a story. You crashed twice in two laps.’ So we’re just trying to write a lot of stories.”

When asked what he would title the book, Allmendinger replied: “The Chaos Inside My Own Head.”

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