By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
Team Penske’s Austin Cindric was one position shy from being perfect on the road courses in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
A late-race caution brought out by Gray Gaulding left the Ford Performance driver with a dilemma, pit for tires with less than five laps to go or stay on track. Crew chief Brian Wilson elected to put tires on Cindric’s No. 22 Menards / Richmond Ford Mustang. The team dropped from third to 20th on the running order.
With two laps to go in the CTECH Manufacturing 180, Cindric avoided AJ Allmendinger’s wayward Chevrolet. In the process, he was a pinball between Michael Annett and Ryan Sieg. Over the next 10 turns, Cindric climbed back to third. Despite Road America’s 4.048-mile length, he could only slip into second by the checkered flag.
Cindric described his run up through the field on the final two laps.
“Chaos. I passed a lot of cars that ended up overdriving corners. It was chaos, insane. I think that’s why people show up at Road America and enjoy this kind of racing because you never know what you’re going to get. It always comes down to those last lap dashes to the finish. I’m glad to be able to put on a show at a place like this.”
Cindric had been on the same strategy as Allmendinger for much of the race. The duo ended the first stage with Allmendinger first and the Xfinity regular second.
In the final stage, as Cindric and Allmendinger battled hard, the No. 22 broke loose off turn five. The black and yellow Ford Mustang made hard contact in the passenger door of Allmendinger’s white Chevrolet Camaro SS. Cindric pitted, forcing him off sequence from his competitors.
The second-place finish is the ninth top-five finish for Cindric this season and his fourth in a row.
The second-year driver remains fifth in the championship standings despite the runner-up finish. Cindric is now 180-points behind points leader Tyler Reddick. He is locked into the playoffs via his wins at Watkins Glen International and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.