No. 22 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric
Stage 1: 1st
Stage 2: 26th
Laps Completed: 45/45
Laps Led: 4
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 5th (-180)
Austin Cindric and the No. 22 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang didn’t win Saturday afternoon’s CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America, but he put on a show at the end of the race, driving his way from 25th to second in just two laps to pick up his third-straight top-two finish in NASCAR Xfinity Series road course action.
The Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang started the race from the third position and settled into the same spot on the opening lap. Despite having a brief off in turn five, Cindric stuck to a pre-race plan with crew chief Brian Wilson. While some of the other lead cars pitted before the stage break, Cindric stayed on track and finished second at the end of the first stage.
Cindric reported that the Menards/Richmond Mustang was good, but experiencing wheel hop in the heavy braking zones. While the rest of the field pitted for fresh tires, Wilson kept the 20-year-old driver on the track to restart stage 2.
On much older tires, Cindric tried to hold on while falling through the field. Sticking to the original strategy, Wilson called Cindric to pit road for the first time on lap 16. He ran slow and cautious laps the rest of stage 2 to keep his tires as fresh as possible, coming home 26th at the end of 20 laps.
Once again, the No. 22 Mustang restarted near the front of the field as stage 3 took the green. Cindric ran inside the top-five having completed only one pit stop to the rest of the fields’ two. However, after contact with the No. 10 of AJ Allmendinger caused a tire rub, Cindric came to pit road once again for four fresh Goodyear tires.
After another caution and the rest of the field taking their final stops, Cindric restarted the race from second with just 10 laps to go and took the lead from Christopher Bell. Unfortunately, the fresher tires behind him saw him slip back to fourth, before another caution set up a green-white-checkered finish.
With a set of tires still in the pits, the No. 22 came to pit road once again for tires. With just two laps remaining, Cindric restarted the race from the 25th position and drove all the way to second at the checkers.
The runner up finish, to go along with wins in the first two NASCAR Xfinity Series road course events this season, kept Cindric fifth in the point standings.
“It was chaos there at the end of the race. I ended up passing a lot of cars coming up through there that were just over driving or missing corners. It was insane. But that is why all these people show up to Road America and road course races, because you never know what you are going to get. It always comes down to those last-lap finishes. I’m really proud of my Menards/Richmond team. We didn’t get the win, but it was fun to drive up there at the end and pass everyone cleanly. We will try and continue this momentum we have in Darlington next week. It’s been a good month of August for sure.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!