By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The development of NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie Austin Cindric continued at Pocono Raceway. The Ford Performance driver earned his best career finish to date in the Xfinity Series in the Pocono Green 250.
In the chaos of the final restart at the ‘Tricky Triangle,’ Cindric held station in his No. 12 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang. As he passed his fellow Ford Performance drivers, Cole Custer and Paul Menard on the expansive frontstretch, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott cruised by. Cindric followed the veterans, battling with Elliott before the 2014 Xfinity Series Champion’s experience bested him. Cindric ended up racing his own race, cruising to a fourth-place finish.
“It was awesome to be able to experience running up there against Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch and those guys,” Cindric said. “That is experience that I can’t give up. I love racing around those guys. Chase was saving tires behind us and that was a pretty cool deal. I gotta have more races like this and need to get some stage wins so that we can be comfortably competitive come the playoffs.”
The restrictor plate aero package led to interesting moments for Cindric throughout the race. Both the draft and handling proved to be key as the field spread out over time. However, as the second stage came to an end, Cindric found himself drafting with his teammate, Menard, Custer, and Justin Allgaier in a four-car pack. Cindric pushed his teammate into the lead before being forced to slow to avoid the lapped car of Mike Harmon. He lost the battle for third and nearly yielded fourth to John Hunter Nemechek.
“We have two more races with this same package and I think Michigan will be more of a pack race because we expect it to be wide open all the way around,” Cindric explained. “Here, the detriment to this package is you had to get all the way out of the gas so it was still a handling race. I can’t complain because I had a really fast Mustang and it was a car that with track position it was capable of winning. When that is the case everything is in your hands and that is all a driver can ask for.”
The fourth-place finish is not only Cindric’s best career finish in the Xfinity Series, but also his second-career top-five finish. It moves him up to 10thin the Championship Points Standings, 186-points behind Points Leader Elliott Sadler. Cindric is also 43-points ahead of the cutoff, held by Ross Chastain.
Cindric will return to Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 60 for the LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway on June 9.