Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Team Penske says it has no plans to field an Xfinity Series team in 2022

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Starting in 2009, Team Penske expanded its already extensive racing horizons by entering the NASCAR Xfinity Series full-time as a complement to their long-standing Cup Series program. But despite many wins and championships for the organization at the sport’s second-highest level, it appears that Penske is set to put its Xfinity program out to pasture for at least the immediate future.

According to Dustin Long of NBC Sports, Team Penske vice chairman Walt Czarnecki told media on Thursday that the team currently has no plans to race in the Xfinity Series this season. The program’s future had been in question following the 2021 season, as driver Austin Cindric moved to the Cup Series to replace Brad Keselowski as the driver of Penske’s No. 2 Ford.

Although Czarnecki indicated that Xfinity racing was not in the team’s plans, the possibility of Penske fielding an Xfinity car was left open. Czarnecki stated that any Xfinity races the team ended up doing would be driven by sponsorship.

Penske not pursuing its Xfinity program comes in spite of its success, particularly over the last two seasons with Cindric behind the wheel. After taking over as the full-time driver of Penske’s No. 22 Xfinity Series Ford in 2019, Cindric earned 13 career wins, won the 2020 series championship, and came a corner away from winning two in a row in 2021 before losing to Daniel Hemric in a photo finish at the season finale. Penske first entered the Xfinity Series full-time in 2009, winning 81 races and two championships with Keselowski and Cindric in that timeframe.

Penske’s absence from the Xfinity Series is a problem for Ford, as the automaker’s presence in the Xfinity Series has dwindled over the past several seasons compared to Chevrolet and Toyota. The blue oval has made some strides in correcting that issue, as Xfinity-only teams such as RSS Racing and SS Green Light Racing have joined Stewart-Haas Racing in fielding Fords.

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