By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Austin Cindric entered Saturday afternoon’s Kansas Lottery 250 at Kansas Speedway on top of the world in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, having won the previous three races and going for a record-tying four wins in a row.
Almost immediately, Cindric showed a tremendous amount of speed, and made it seem as though tying Sam Ard’s record of four wins in a row was a foregone conclusion.
After starting the race in the fourth position, Cindric drove his No. 22 Team Penske Ford to the front just nine laps into the race and ran away with the top spot. In fact, he would lead a whopping 131 of the 175 laps, with only Harrison Burton posing a serious challenge.
Burton would actually run Cindric down and pass him for the lead with less than 20 laps to go in what easily could have been a race-winning move.
However, a caution would would come out on lap 165 that would change everything.
All of the lead lap cars (excluding Ryan Sieg) opted to pit, and Cindric would wind up taking the lead back from Burton.With Cindric having a strong short run car to Burton’s long-run speed, the expectation was that the five-lap sprint to the finish would be Cindric’s to lose.
However, one more caution and lots of jostling for position later, Brandon Jones actually managed to sneak by for the victory, a surprising outcome in a race that had only seen two competitive drivers.
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Cindric’s chance at four in a row had come to an end, having to settle for a runner-up finish instead, an agonizingly disappointing finish to an otherwise dominant day.
“There is about 20 things I feel like I should have done differently,” said the 21-year-old driver. “It was difficult because up higher was preferred all day and you could usually generate momentum. I didn’t know that we didn’t quite get the right adjustment there at the end, so I was probably tighter than I needed to be, but, overall, watching the replay he got a hell of a run on the bottom and I knew he had some momentum. I mean, if I maybe would have known he was coming from the bottom, I probably would have pulled down to slide myself into one and two and been able to fight for it in three and four, but, overall, congrats to him. He earned it. He went from seventh to the lead in two laps.
“It’s like the third or fourth time we’ve lost on a green-white-checker after being the leader at the line,” he continued. “There are a thousand different things you can do right and wrong and you’ve got to trust your gut and trust the car is gonna stick. Overall, it just wasn’t in the cards for four in a row.”
Prior to 2020, Cindric had earned the reputation of being a formidable foe on road courses, earning his first two career victories in back-to-back road course races last season.
While he has now also demonstrated a propensity for ovals, the next two races in the Xfinity Series should serve as a promising opportunity for Cindric to get back to victory lane, with the series heading to Road America on August 8th and the Daytona International Speedway Road Course on August 15th.
Photo by Jamie Squire | Getty Images