By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
It wasn’t a win for Austin Cindric, but following Saturday’s Drydene 200 at Dover International Speedway, he further extended his regular season Xfinity Series points lead over Chase Briscoe by 72 points with his seventh straight top-two finish.
Cindric’s No. 22 PPG Ford Mustang was the strongest among the Ford duo as soon as the green flag dropped, leading the first 48 laps and scored the Stage 1 victory. Cindric lost the lead to Noah Gragson and with the exception of one lap, he wouldn’t have a turn out front for the remainder of the day.
Nevertheless, Cindric still had a solid points day, finishing second to Justin Allgaier in both Stage 2 and in the final result.
Despite Allgaier setting the tone, Cindric did have a few tricks on his sleeves by choosing the bottom on a restart, hoping it would’ve worked out. The plan wasn’t meant to be as a sixth NXS win would have to wait another day.
“It was a track position race and if I was gonna give myself any shot to win the race, it was gonna be on a restart. Finishing second or finishing third nobody really cares. It doesn’t really matter,” said Cindric. “When you’re NASCAR racing you don’t get a trophy for it and the points are a small difference, so try and win races. That’s probably why I did it.
“That’s the conversation I had with myself. In Ross (Chastain’s) shoes, I probably would have done the same thing he did, picking the second row on the top, but obviously we were able to take advantage of it and still hold the second-place track position, but, yeah, I did it to try and give myself a shot at the win.”
As for his championship rival and fellow Ford mate, Briscoe had a long 200-lap race as a result of having an incident on the backstretch in Stage 2. Briscoe was running behind Cindric until his No. 98 HighPoint.com Mustang got loose and hit the wall.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) August 22, 2020
After the race, Briscoe tweeted the ordeal between them on Lap 78 was his doing as the team repaired the damage on the front nose and got Briscoe back in the fight where he finished 10th.
Made a mistake, that’s on me. Just got loose under the 22. Proud of the guys to keep fighting, bent front clip, steering all messed up, and the splitter torn off and still able to get a top 10. This team never gives up. Pull the backup out, tag the tail and try to put on a show.
— Chase Briscoe (@ChaseBriscoe5) August 22, 2020
Briscoe added that it was an overall decent day for the Stewart-Haas Racing crew, but they’ll hope for better results after losing more ground in the quest for the coveted 15 playoff points at regular season’s end at Bristol next month. More so, that they’re going to a backup car for Sunday’s race.
“Obviously, I want a lot more,” said Briscoe. “The way these last six or seven races have gone we haven’t been where we had been earlier in the year, so I feel like we can get it turned around tomorrow. We’ll probably go to a backup and hopefully it’s a little bit better.”
Although Briscoe was able to gain track positions, Cindric said it was key staying towards the front and doesn’t see that changing in the second race at “The Monster Mile” Sunday (1 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
“Hopefully, we can learn from today, apply it to tomorrow and maybe execute just a little bit better. It was a little bit of a track position race, but you can’t get too caught up in trying to win every race because these things are pretty hard to do,” said Cindric. “To come away with a second-place finish and Justin was obviously really hungry. That was gonna be a hard pass to make if it wasn’t on pit road, so congrats to (Justin) and try and do one spot better tomorrow.”