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2024 Cup Series Team Previews: Team Penske

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

By Adam Carabine & Logan Morris

This year, in preparation for the 2024 NASCAR season, we present our Team Previews Series. Each day until the end of January, a new Team Preview will be live on our website. Check back every day to see what we have to say about your favourite team!

Adam Carabine:  It’s time to take a look at Team Penske as part of our Team Previews Series.  Despite having Ryan Blaney as the 2023 Champion, we still rank Team Penske in the third position, still behind the two powerhouses of Joe Gibbs and Hendrick.  Firstly, Logan, is there any chance at all we see a three-peat from Team Penske in ‘24?  Can they get another championship under their belt?

Logan Morris: They say all good things come to an end, and I believe their championship streak of sorts will stop at two. For what it’s worth, I think their best chance of scoring the three-peat comes in the form of Joey Logano, and not Ryan Blaney. Logano had a lackluster season by his lofty standards in 2023, and will be looking to bounce back.

AC: You may be right, but I was impressed with Ryan Blaney last year. He has been a fairly consistent guy on Team Penske for a while now, but there was something different last season.  He found an extra gear in the playoffs that we haven’t ever seen from him before.  He knew how to turn it up when it counted, and that’s what got him his first career championship.  Logano, for some reason, is always better in even years, so I do think he’ll be better this season.  He’s always a contender for the Cup championship, so everyone else better watch out.  What do we make of Austin Cindric? He’s clearly the distant third on this team.

LM: There’s something to be said for getting hot at the right time, especially in this current championship format and credit to the 12 team for doing just that. 

AC: I’m going to cut you off for a second here - it’s not just getting hot at the right time, but also being able to do something with that.  There’s getting hot, but there’s also capitalizing on your chances, and that’s what Blaney did.  Okay, sorry, continue!

LM: You’re not wrong, but to a lot of folks his championship may have controversy surrounding it. If we’re talking about the best driver being the most deserving of the championship. To be clear, that’s not taking away anything from Blaney. He’s our defending champion, and he earned that. However, those types of topics are a discussion among the NASCAR faithful.  

AC: You’re not wrong, there will be arguments in all of the comments sections for years to come about the playoff format.  You’ll never make everyone happy. I think Blaney can be our champion, and still not have had the ‘best year,’ and I’m okay with that.  Everyone knows the rules of winning the championship at the beginning of the year, and it’s up to them to navigate that as they see fit.  There’s a reason Team Penske is still listed third in our power rankings here.  Okay, I got you sidetracked - talk to me about Cindric.

LM: I think it’s a pivotal year for Cindric. The days of letting a driver struggle as they develop are almost entirely a thing of the past. He of course did win the 2022 Daytona 500 as a rookie, but beyond that there haven’t been many stellar performances. I think he needs to find victory lane at least once in 2024 or his seat could get fairly warm depending on the prospect outlook in the lower series, and silly season 2024. 

AC: I don’t necessarily want to pull out this card, but I do think having Austin Cindric’s dad be the president of Team Penske helps him a little.  But you’re not wrong.  If the seat isn’t hot already, it’s about to get there pretty quickly.  Yes, it’s amazing to have that Daytona 500 win on your resume, but he’s got to start producing.  To make matters worse for Cindric, his teammates are out winning championships.  There isn’t necessarily an equipment problem here, it looks like it may be driver-related.  Which, in a way, is wild, because he was a really great Xfinity driver.  I wonder if he needs the John Hunter Nemechek treatment of returning down to the lower series for a confidence booster.  

LM: I think it just takes some drivers a while to adjust and find their rhythm. Especially when your teammates are a future Hall Of Famer and the defending champion. Erik Jones has talked a lot about how he thinks being at a smaller team is a better fit for him. Maybe Cindric is the same? You do make a good point about the family ties. But, at the end of the day, it’s “The Captain’s” Ship, so to speak, and he holds his team to a high standard.  

AC: Agreed.  I think it’ll be a fascinating year for Austin Cindric fans - and that could be a good or a bad thing. 

Stay tuned to our Team Previews Series, where tomorrow we take a look at Joe Gibbs Racing.


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