By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Despite a rain-soaked race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, Austin Cindric advanced to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Round of Eight.
Although Cindric is usually a key player in the Xfinity Series on road courses, his No. 22 Wurth Ford Mustang was a non-factor throughout the long runs. Immediately after restarts in the Drive for the Cure 250, the Team Penske driver surged forward. However, two laps later, he was far behind race winner AJ Allmendinger and Ford Performance teammate Chase Briscoe.
While Cindric’s race was relatively quiet, being able to keep his nose clean kept the 22-year-old up front. As Briscoe, Myatt Snider, and Alex Labbe spun out of the top-five, Mooresville, N.C. native simply strolled by at Charlotte.
In overtime at Charlotte, Cindric lined up just inside the top-five. Although he picked up a spot from Briscoe, he slid down the running order. With visibility at a premium, the Playoff driver took in a racing experience like none other. When the checkered flag finally waved, Cindric was sixth.
“I think a top-five effort was pretty likely there,” admitted Cindric. “I probably made one small mistake that kept our Wurth Ford Mustang out of the top five.
“But, to race a car in the dark, in very, very wet conditions, pouring down rain with no headlights, no tail lights, splitter clearances being at dry minimums, I can assure you that no other race car can experience what we experienced today in our race for better or for worse. I’m sure it was entertainment for anyone at home. I look forward to Kansas Speedway, Texas, Martinsville and Phoenix surely just for the fact that we don’t have to do that again.”
Cindric clinched a berth in the Round of Eight at the conclusion of the second Stage. Although he finished outside the top-10 in the first Stage, a fourth-place finish in the second earned the third-year Xfinity Series driver enough points to lock himself into the second round of the Playoffs.
“Advancing to the Round of 8 is a box checked for us. Obviously, we weren’t in a super tight spot heading into today, but that was kind of my only goal after it started raining. I got off to a pretty aggressive foot there to try and establish track position in the dry. I think that got us the fastest lap of the race as well, so that’s a positive.
“That will help us out tremendously at Kansas, so looking forward to that. After it started raining we were pretty conservative as far as my driving, the strategy and after we got into a place where we could advance I started being able to peck my way up through the field and get us to where we could finish inside the top 10 and maybe have a little more clear visibility than back in the twenties.”
The sixth-place finish was the 23rd top-10 for Cindric this season. It was also the 60th of his Xfinity Series career.
Following the reseeding for the Round of Eight, Cindric is now third in the points standings, 25 behind leader Briscoe. He is 27-points ahead of Brandon Jones who currently holds the final spot for the Championship Four.
Photo by Harold Hinson / Harold Hinson Photography