Matt DiBenedetto will remain with the Wood Brothers in 2021 but Austin Cindric will take over the ride the following season.
In a two-part announcement on Thursday, the Wood Brothers said they had signed DiBenedetto to another one-year contract extension to drive the iconic No. 21 Ford in the 2021 Cup Series season.
However, Team Penske also announced it had signed Cindric to a multi-year contract extension that would see the upstart run another year in the Xfinity Series in 2021 but transition to the Wood Brothers’ Cup organization in the 2022 season.
“It’s such an honor to be able to continue to drive for Wood Brothers Racing and have another year to grow with this organization,” said DiBenedetto. “I am excited to learn from our 2020 notebook and I’m confident that with a full season under our belt and working together as a team, we will produce even better results.
“I also want to thank Ford Performance and Team Penske for their efforts in making this happen. These types of decisions take a lot of time, as we all know there are a lot of factors in play. All three groups want to make the best decisions for everyone involved and I’m appreciative to have the opportunity to continue to compete for such a legendary race team.”
Since joining Wood Brothers Racing earlier this year, DiBenedetto, 29, has earned three top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes this season and qualified for the Cup Series playoffs for the first time.
DiBenedetto finished as runner-up in both Cup Series races at Las Vegas this season, including in the playoff round at the 1.5-mile track on Sept. 27.
Currently enjoying his most successful season in NASCAR, Cindric will return to race full-time in the Xfinity Series next season and also compete select Cup Series next season. In 2022, Cindric will race fulltime in the Cup Series with Wood Brothers Racing.
Cindric’s development continues
Team Penske and Wood Brothers Racing formed a technical alliance in 2015 and the teams have worked together on driver development opportunities in the past, most recently with current Penske driver Ryan Blaney.
“As we continue to position our team for future success, it is important to make sure Austin continues his development in the Xfinity Series with Team Penske,” said team owner Roger Penske. “Austin has made great strides in recent years and he has become a consistent winner and a true championship contender this season.
“He will continue his natural progression and get some Cup Series experience in 2021. That will help him prepare for a full season in 2022 with the new NextGen car, racing the No. 21 Ford Mustang for Wood Brothers Racing.”
Racing the No. 22 Ford Mustang in the Xfinity Series, Cindric became just the second driver in series history to win five races in the span of six events earlier this season. He also won the series’ regular-season championship. He is currently second in the series standings heading into this weekend’s race at the Charlotte Roval.
“This is a big step forward in my career long-term, and I am humbled and motivated by the opportunity and the confidence that Team Penske, Ford Performance, the Wood Brothers, and all of our partners have expressed in my abilities and my development as a driver,” said Cindric.
“Every race car driver wants to advance in his career, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than on a clear path with Team Penske that will eventually lead to a full-time opportunity in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“I’m really excited for this next chapter in my development to continue working towards competing and trying to win at the highest level.”
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