Cindric punches ticket to post-season with win at CTMP
By Steven Ellis
September 3, 2017
BOWMANVILLE, Ont.—A day after turning 19 years old, Austin Cindric continued the trend of young drivers winning in the Camping World Truck Series at Canadian Tire Motorsports park, spinning out Kaz Grala on the final lap to win his first ever NASCAR race.
The win came in the Brad Keselowski Racing driver’s 21st race, his second at the track. A collision late with teammate Daniel Hemric a year ago took the young driver out of third place.
Cindric, who is no stranger to road racing with tons of experience in sports cars, knew he had a strong chance at the win, even before he set the track record for fastest qualifying speed in the trucks.
“It’s an incredible week for this 19 team,” said Cindric. “We didn’t have to do much to the truck after unloading it.”
The win, like most races at the track, didn’t come without controversy. After passing Noah Gragson with time winding down, Cindric caught up to Grala in the final laps.
In Turn Five on the final lap, Cindric had a good run and bumped Grala out of the way, cruising to the victory while Grala would have to settle for third behind Gragson.
“He (Grala) already had a win (this season) so I didn’t feel too bad about having to do something to make it happen for this team,” said Cindric. “These guys deserved this win and it was the first win all season for Ford Performance.”
Cindric’s win also keeps the trend of young drivers winning at CTMP. Ryan Blaney is the oldest winner since the series started going to the track in 2013, with Blaney winning at 20-years-old in 2014.
Chase Elliott is the youngest to take the checkered flag after winning the first race at 17 years old.
CINDRIC STRONG IN FIRST STAGE
Cindric led all 20 laps of the opening stage, keeping Grala at bay before the first chance at pit stops.
Two drivers found themselves off in turn three, with Cody Coughlin doing so in the opening laps. Midway through the stage, Gary Klutt, a winner in the Pinty's Series at CTMP, locked up the breaks in the same turn, but kept it from going around.
DJ Kennington, Chase Briscoe and Matt Crafton struggled in the early stages and elected to go to pit road early. The decision allowed them to restart near the front of the field, with track position proving to be key.
RUNNING ORDER SHIFTS AROUND
The second caution of the race saw Jennifer Jo Cobb pull off for a transmission issue in turn five at the start of stage two. She had previously visited the pits for the same issue, but would never diagnose it.
A slew of pit road penalties saw a change in the top positions. Cindric and defending race winner John Hunter Nemechek would pit on lap 12 of stage two, with both getting with penalties. Cindric would leave the pits with a gas can, while Nemechek would get nabbed for speeding on road.
The lead would be assumed by Ryan Truex, who would pull away at the end of the stage to take the middle frame.
The third stage wouldn’t last long before another caution. On the restart, Bell’s truck would blow up in smoke, taking him out of the race.
On the same lap, Crafton’s truck would die coming out of turn ten, making it all the way to turn five before it came to a stop.
It was the first time Crafton had failed to finish every lap at the track, a disappointing end to what had been a good run.
Two laps into the next green flag run, a wild ride for Coughlin would see his day come to an end. After surviving turn five, Coughlin would see two of his tires touch the grass on the Andretti straight, launching the truck into the air. He would fail to get the truck moving again, resulting in another caution with 13 laps to go.
Grala would run away with the lead after the caution, seemingly on route to his second win of the season. That wouldn’t prove to be the case.
“That was a dump-and-run and to be honest I know he’s trying to race for a playoff spot but he didn’t even try to pass us,” said Grala. “That was too dirty a move by (Cindric) and I can’t get behind that at all.”
PLAYOFFS IN SIGHT
Cindric’s win helped secure a playoff spot for the rookie. His BKR teammate, Briscoe, clinched a spot as well thanks to a 75-point advantage over the cutoff with one more race to go in the regular season at Chicagoland.