By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
After a wild end to the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, Austin Cindric finds himself with a small points cushion heading to Martinsville Speedway.
With 25 laps to go in the final Stage, Cindric’s No. 22 Menards / Richmond Ford Mustang restarted behind Justin Allgaier. Allgaier surged forward in turns one and two before breaking loose. The JR Motorsports driver forced Ross Chastain up the racetrack. Luckily, the Team Penske driver stayed low and took the lead.
Seconds later, Allgaier crashed with Chastain, Brandon Jones, and Jeremy Clements. Ahead of the action, the Team Penske driver stayed on track. On the ensuing restart, Cindric broke loose in turns three and four and dropped outside of the top-five.
Over the final 15 laps, the Mooresville, N.C. native worked his way back ahead of Justin Haley, Michael Annett, and Brandon Brown. When the checkered flag waved, the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff driver had moved back up to fourth. In a stroke of luck for Cindric, a non-Playoff driver won.
“I have no idea what emotion I’m supposed to feel right now,” explained Cindric. “Obviously, it was a grind all day. We had the speed in our Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang, but we started off the race extremely loose and got run over a couple times. We had to waste a set of tires and drove back up through the field.
“I thought maybe the 7 and the 10 were going to race it out for the win and we obviously got great track position there and I had to drive through the river of speedy dry up top and about crashed, lost the lead and then looked like the 9 was going to win. Then I have no idea how Harrison won, but points-wise that does a lot for me. Good job to him. I don’t know whether to be disappointed, upset, happy I’m out of here, but we’re up in the points a lot more than what we came with, so I’ll sleep with one eye open and go to Martinsville.”
In the first two stages of the race, Cindric finished inside the top-10. He picked up 11-points in the stages. When the checkered flag waved, his cushion over the Playoff cutline, held by Haley, is 10-points. Cindric is 14-points ahead of Jones, the first driver outside of the Playoffs.
Next for the Xfinity Series is the Draft Top 250 at Martinsville. It is the first race for the Xfinity Series at Martinsville since 2006. Cindric has experience at ‘The Paperclip’ in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races in 2017.
The fourth-place finish is the 18th for Cindric this season and 39th in his Xfinity Series career.
Photo by NKP / NKP Photo