By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Austin Cindric had the speed, but not the track position to advance to the Championship Four. Although the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver did lead, he was unable to lead the lap that ultimately counted.
Cindric’s No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang was among the fastest cars on the long run in the Whelen Trusted to Perform 200 at ISM Raceway. On the final restart, he was deep inside the top-10. In the notoriously quick 200-Mile race, Cindric had little time to make up ground. He climbed through the field to finish fourth but needed a win to advance to Homestead.
In the races’ previous three long runs Cindric was often battling for the lead. However, in both stages, he, like the rest of the field, were chasing down Justin Allgaier.
At several points throughout the race, Cindric made contact with the Regular Season Champion. The contact between the duo was never serious, but made for tense moments, including one on lap 136. Tyler Hill spun off of turn two. In the smoke, Allgaier stomped on the brakes. Cindric bumped the JR Motorsports driver, having little time to react. Luckily, both drivers maintained control.
“I needed track position and a long green flag run,” Cindric explained. “We had an awesome Discount Tire Ford Mustang today, something definitely capable of winning the race today and locking us into Homestead, but we didn’t quite get what we needed to going to that third stage.
“I was just relying on track position from there on out and got three cautions we didn’t need, but I’m just really thankful to be in these Playoffs and in this system. I’m excited for Homestead next week. I think we’ve got a really good shot at going out there and being a surprise winner.”
The fourth-place finish was the sixth top-five this season for Cindric. He remains eighth in the Championship Standings. The best position Cindric can finish is fifth, which he is 37-Points behind.