By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
In a race devoid of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, Austin Cindric scored his first career top-10 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The ToyotaCare 250 was relatively quiet for the Team Penske driver.
Cindric’s No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang was well inside the top-10 on the final restart of the 250-lap race at Richmond Raceway. With about 50 laps to go, he broke into the top-five. For the remainder of the race, Cindric bounced between the fifth and seventh positions. By the time the checkered flag waved, he was running in the fifth position.
Despite the good finish, Cindric’s day started off with a penalty. Unapproved adjustments sent him to the rear of the 40-car field prior to the start of the race. Cindric didn’t crack the top-10 until the end of Stage 1 when he forced his way past Ryan Truex. Truex showed his displeasure under the ensuing caution, swerving towards Cindric. He would stay just inside the top-10 until the final run of the night.
“That was more work than I thought I was going to have to do tonight,” Cindric admitted. “We were definitely a top-three car, we just needed a Cup race worth of distance to get there. Track position was pretty important. We had a great long-run car all night and definitely a car that was able to contend for the win. I’m really, really happy with the guys. They’ve been patient with me and coming to this track never having seen it before, I’m happy with the run. This is my best finish so far in the XFINITY Series and we’ll just keep going.”
The fifth-place finish is the best finish of Cindric’s NASCAR Xfinity Series career to date. Despite the top-five, Cindric remains in the 13thposition in the Championship Points Standings. He is 140-points behind points leader Elliott Sadler, and 11-points behind the Playoff Cutoff, held by Ross Chastain.
The fifth-place finish also qualifies Cindric to the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash for the first time in his career. Should he finish higher than his Dash 4 Cash participants at Talladega Superspeedway next weekend, he would earn a $100,000 bonus.
Now Cindric will look to carry this momentum into the Sparks Energy 300 on April 28.