It has been a dream season already for Roger Penske's team, even by their standards. The season kicked off with a dramatic Daytona 500 win for rookie Austin Cindric, as two of their drivers battled for the win. The organization's success continued in the IndyCar series as well.

Will Power earned his second career championship last weekend at Laguna Seca. Josef Newgarden finished 2nd in the standings, and won a series-best five races this season. Penske's third driver, Scott McLaughlin, had a breakout sophomore season by winning three races and scoring seven podium finishes. They finished 1st, 2nd, and 4th in the final standings.

A Daytona 500 victory and an IndyCar championship in the same season is outstanding, but Penske wants more. The organization now has their sights set on another Cup series title as all three of their drivers remain in the title hunt. This weekend is a playoff cutoff race, where the bottom four drivers in the standings will be eliminated at Bristol.

Two of the Penske trio are sitting in a good position with Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney 4th and 5th in the standings. Cindric is the one at the most risk of being eliminated tomorrow, as he is just two points above the cutoff line in 12th. To make things even more challenging, this will be the first time Cindric has ever raced a Cup car on the Bristol concrete.

Austin certainly has some history at this track though.

Cindric was involved in one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway two years ago in the Xfinity series regular season finale. He and AJ Allmendinger were bouncing off one another as they fought for the lead, and the two crashed just before the finish line with Cindric being the bridesmaid.

A panel of journalists, racing historians, and Bristol experts recently ranked it as the 2nd best race ever at the track. The only one that topped it was the epic 1995 night race between Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte.

It was a wild night for Cindric, who tried to embrace all of the emotions. "I tried," Cindric said shortly after exiting his car. "That was a hell of a race, though. That’s why there's people in the grandstands, they want to see that battle. As much as I hate it, it's about them, they love it. I just got booed and cheered tonight, I don't know what's going on."

After starting his Cup career off with the highest of highs, Cindric hit the rookie wall soon after. Something changed halfway through the season though, and he started running much better. He had five straight top-seven finishes at one point, finished 2nd on the IMS road course, and 3rd at Daytona in the season finale, after getting shoved off the track by eventual winner Austin Dillon.

With finishes of 16th and 12th to start the playoffs, the 24-year old is looking for a much better result tomorrow night. He touched on that last weekend after the race at Kansas. "We just got hosed at one point on the final restart. We lost all the spots that I had gained and we never got those back. I just drove the car too hard trying to make it up and got too loose by the end of the race. Bristol will be a big unknown and a big challenge. We can’t take points for granted. I feel like we gave a few away today."

He will have that opportunity tomorrow, with redemption on his mind as he starts in 9th position. "I have had a lot of heartache at Bristol. I would like to change that but maybe I will just take moving on to the next round. I have a lot of work ahead and a lot of really good guys I am going to have to beat."

Two of those guys he will have to beat are former champions in Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Others like Chase Briscoe, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez, and Dillon might as well all be in the same boat. Five of those drivers are separated by just seven points heading into the race tomorrow.

Should Cindric advance into the Round of 12 tomorrow, he will be a serious threat at all three of the next tracks. The first stop is Texas, where he finished 3rd earlier this year in the All-Star race. The next one comes at Talladega, where he Cindric has proven to be a force on the superspeedway (1st and 3rd at Daytona). The final race takes place on the Charlotte ROVAL, where Cindric really shines as a road racer.

Those are three legitimate places where Cindric could wind up in victory lane, and advance to the Round of 8 in the playoffs. Logano and Blaney may have the edge in experience but Cindric could be the most dangerous Penske driver after tomorrow night if he can stay in the fight. Logano has two victories this year but hasn't won since June 5 and Blaney still has not won a race at all this season.

Cindric is trying to become the first rookie to advance to the Round of 12 since Chase Elliott did it in 2016. "I honestly feel mentally pretty good," he said. "We just have to avoid beating ourselves. It's a great opportunity, in my rookie season, and we just have to go do everything to make the most of it."