No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric
Stage 1: 4th
Stage 2: 2nd
Laps Completed: 300/300
Laps Led: 42
Point Standings (behind first): 2nd (-0)
Austin Cindric’s chances to win the Food City 300 were derailed by a mechanical problem in the closing laps of Friday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Cindric, who led 42 laps, lost the lead to Chase Briscoe with just six laps to go when he had an issue with the power steering on his No. 22 Mustang. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford held on to finish third, his 17th top-five of the season and his best finish in six starts at Bristol. He completes the regular season with 21 top-10 finishes in 26 races and enters the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Round of 12 next weekend at Las Vegas ranked second with 2,050 points, tied for the lead in the standings with Briscoe.
Cindric started the 300-lap event from fourth position after the field was set per the NASCAR rule book. The first 85-lap stage saw two cautions, including one brief red flag delay. Cindric was third at the time of the competition caution on lap 40 and said he was good on the long run but needed to turn better. He moved up to fourth at the conclusion of Stage 1. Crew chief Brian Wilson called the driver of the Discount Tire Ford down pit road for four tires, fuel, and slight adjustments during the stage caution and Cindric restarted third on lap 93.
Shortly after the race went green, the Mooresville, N.C., native quickly captured the runner-up position. The fourth caution was displayed on 122 for a three-car accident and moments later the race was halted for a second time for extensive clean up. Cindric communicated his Mustang was better on the short run but needed to be a little freer and finished second when Stage 2 concluded on lap 170. Once again, Wilson called his driver to pit road during the stage caution four tires, fuel, and adjustments and lined up seventh when the race went green on lap 178.
Cindric wasted no time climbing back to the front, running third as the race passed the 200-lap mark and when the seventh caution flew on lap 246. Wilson made the call to pit for four tires, fuel, and an air presser adjustment and Cindric restarted second on lap 251. He grabbed the lead on lap 253 and was comfortably ahead of the field when his mechanical gremlins struck just 17 laps later when Cindric reported he lost power steering. He hung on the lead until Briscoe made the race winning pass with six laps to go. Cindric battled hard during the closing laps and was credited with a third-place finish.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series is back in action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Saturday, September 26th, for the first race in the Round of 12. Live coverage will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
Quote: “I lost the power steering with about 30 laps to go and I’m not sure I’ve ever been in that much pain in my life, physically and emotionally. That’s how it goes. We should have won the race tonight with our Discount Tire Ford Mustang. The guys brought us a really fast piece. Things like this is what’s been keeping us out of victory lane a lot this year. We’ve got pretty strong cars and I’m proud of that. We’re set up really well for the playoffs. After a night like tonight, it makes your hungry.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!