By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Austin Cindric overcame adversity to earn a top-10 finish in the Camping World 300.
A late caution set up a 21-lap run to the finish, with Cindric’s No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang was one of just 14 cars on the lead lap. He battled hard with Noah Gragson and Brandon Jones for the final position in the top-five. Cindric narrowly avoided contact with Gragson with eight laps to go.
Both Cindric and Jones began to swap positions back and forth over the final eight laps. The duo crossed took the checkered flag side-by-side. Jones barely edged out Cindric for fifth, leaving the 20-year-old in sixth at Chicagoland Speedway.
“A couple guys were pretty clever with strategy there at the end,” Cindric explained. “We probably should have been fourth or fifth on the day but I am happy with it. It is probably one of the best executed races we have had in the last month.”
Well inside the top-10, Cindric was having an impressive run. While battling Jones and Justin Allgaier, the Team Penske driver was black flagged by NASCAR. The passenger window fell out of Cindric’s Ford and forced NASCAR’s hand. Somehow, the missing window did not result in a debris caution.
Cindric ducked onto pit road to serve the penalty on lap 104. His Brian Wilson-led team quickly replaced the window. The second-year driver lost a lap as a result of the safety fix.
Cindric received the free pass when Ryan Sieg spun on lap 112. Seven laps after the ensuing restart, he had moved from 23rd to ninth.
Cindric admitted that he had a little luck with the timely caution.
“I came on the radio at one point after we had the window come out under green and got a lucky caution, I said, ‘Guys, adversity is the spice of life and it is about to get spicy.’ We were up to the top-10 again about three laps after the restart. We got the car right, made the right adjustments.”
The sixth-place finish is the 12th top-10 finish this season for Cindric and the 25th of his career.
The top-10 finish moved Cindric from fifth to fourth in the championship points standings. He is 130-points behind points leader Tyler Reddick and 150-points ahead of the cutoff for the playoffs, currently held by Sieg.