By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Failing to finish before reaching halfway of stage one wasn’t the way NASCAR Xfinity Series rookies Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric wanted to start out their season. The high-profile drivers competing for Rookie of the Year honors were both involved in a Lap 10 crash in Saturday’s Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway.
Battling for seventh, Cindric’s No. 60 Pirtek Ford was sandwiched between Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez exiting Turn 3 as he fought an ill-handling car the moment the green flag dropped. Cindric’s car lost control entering Turn 4 and bounced into Suarez, then darted left into Reddick’s right side door, sending Cindric back across the track and slammed the Turn 4 wall.
Bell’s teammate Brandon Jones ran into the back bumper of Cindric’s car, turning his car around. Bell, who was behind Jones, went low to avoid the wreck, but had no room to avoid Cindric and both collided. Bell’s contact sent Cindric into another spinning cycle and hit the wall before his car finally laid to rest past the start/finish line.
Cindric got out of his car under his own power and will be credited with a 40th place finish.
“We were a little loose coming off of four but I need to see a replay to see how close the No. 18 (Suarez) was to my door,” Cindric said. “Those guys were getting pretty aggressive for lap 10 or wherever we were. It is unfortunate to be put in that position but we were just racing.”
Bell’s right front wheel was damaged and brought his No. 20 Rheem Toyota to the garage, ending his day in 39th.
“I didn’t see what happened,” Bell said. “There was a car parked in front of me and I ran into him.”
Cindric said although he was disappointed about his day ending early, he found a bright side from Saturday’s race after only completing one lap in last year’s Camping World Truck Series race.
“I learned that waiting until the end really isn’t a thing. It is tough because you just work all year to get prepared and you work all year trying to find seats to sit in,” Cindric said. “It is just unfortunate it only lasts that long. It is longer than my Truck race lasted last year, that is a plus. I hate it for the guys on the 60 and anybody else involved,”
Cindric won’t run the No. 60 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing next week. Instead, he’ll run for Roger Penske’s No. 12 team as part of a 24-race deal, allowing him to compete for the championship.
“We will move on to Atlanta. I look forward to seeing how Chase (Briscoe) and those guys do in the 60. I will be in the 12,” Cindric added. “Hopefully we have a longer race down there.”
Cindric’s next race for Roush Fenway Racing will be at Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 3.