On Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway, Brad Keselowski Racing driver, Austin Cindric was able to point his way in for his first Championship 4.
Let’s take a look at how Cindric got here first.
Despite finishing 21st or worse in the first three races this season, Cindric has had a fairly consistent 2017 season. He posted seven top five and 15 top 10 finishes, and only had two DNF’s that came in Texas and Daytona. Cindric collected his first win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park after moving Kaz Grala out of the way on the last lap.
When the Playoffs started, he was solid throughout the rounds. Cindric posted eighth, fourth, fifth, 10th, second and ninth at Loudon, Las Vegas, Talladega, Martinsville, Fort Worth and Phoenix, respectively.
However, the Phoenix race didn’t come without controversy. On Lap 131, Playoff driver Ben Rhodes, came down to block Cindric which resulted in a multi-vehicle accident including championship contender Matt Crafton.
Now the only way Cindric would not advance to the Championship 4 was a win from John Hunter Nemechek, which almost happened as Nemechek finished second. Even with the ninth-place finish and second for Nemechek, Cindric pointed his way to his first ever championship race.
“The 27 (Rhodes) had been executing all night,” Cindric said. “They’d been doing what they needed to beat us, and on that restart, I had envisioned us getting the perfect restart and trying to pop to the inside if I did. It’s one of those racing deals: two guys fighting for the same amount of real estate. It was very similar to what happened at Homestead last year in the Cup race, two guys racing for the same real estate with Carl Edwards and Joey Logano. Unfortunately, that’s how it ended.
I wish we were able to race him hard from there, racing three-wide. I’m sure his spotter was telling him to defend the bottom or ‘looking inside’ and, sure enough, I was on the inside. It certainly wasn’t intentional and I didn’t want to earn the spot that way. I think we’ve surprised a few people with how far we’ve come this season. Hopefully, we can have a fun night at Homestead and maybe come back with some confetti on our Draw-Tite Ford F-150.”