Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn is off to a good start to the 2022 NASCAR Cup season following up its Clash at the Coliseum victory two weeks ago in Los Angeles with a second consecutive conquest at the Daytona 500 Sunday.
When Penske Racing rookie driver Austin Cindric and his Mustang took the checkered flag in the 64th running of The Great American Race, it was the 17th overall Daytona 500 win for Ford and the third for the Bloomfield Township-based Roger Penske who celebrated his 85th birthday in victory lane Sunday.
Cindric found himself as the race leader when a caution flag flew on lap 196 of the scheduled 200-lap event, resulting in a two-lap overtime finish. He got some help on the restart from teammate Ryan Blaney and maintained the lead as the field took the white flag, signifying the final lap.
It stayed that way until they came off turn four, but Cindric was able to take the checkered flag first as cars bounced off the wall and each other across the finish line.
“I knew I had the car to do it, but there’s so many things that have to play out correctly and putting yourself in position,” says Cindric, the first full-time rookie to win NASCAR’s biggest race of the year. “Sometimes you have to force people to help you (in the draft on the track) and I definitely didn’t expect any help throughout the day. I did get some from the Fords, and I think Ford has done an incredible job with this new car and it’s obviously shown the first couple races.”
Cindric is the 14th different driver to win the Daytona 500 with Ford, which now has won the Daytona 500 four times in the last eight years.
In Daytona’s two qualifying Duel races Thursday night, Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing drivers Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski, also powered by Ford Performance engines, each found victory lane for team co-owner Jack Roush of Livonia.
“It is a dream,” says Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports. “To see how well this Next Gen car raced today after more than two years of development is great for the sport. But then to have that Ford teamwork and see everyone working together was really special. It’s a long season, but to win the Clash at the Coliseum and now the Daytona 500 for a second year in a row is a great way to start.”
Team Penske’s Joey Logano was the victor at the first Clash at the Coliseum, which transformed the famed L.A. Olympic and football stadium into a quarter-mile asphalt racetrack.