Team Penske NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Report
Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Race: O’Reilly Auto Parts 300
Date: October 24, 2020
No. 22 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 5th
Laps Completed: 200/200
Laps Led: 10
Point Standings (behind first): 2nd (-30)
Austin Cindric led laps and was in contention for a win before settling for a fourth-place finish Saturday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. Cindric claimed his 18th top-five finish of the season and his fourth in six starts at Texas. The driver of the Menards/Richmond Ford enters the final race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Round of 8 second in the standings, 30 behind leader Chase Briscoe and 14 ahead of the cutline.
Cindric started the 200-lap, 300-mile event from seventh position after the field was set per the NASCAR rule book. He battled a loose-handling Menards/Richmond Mustang throughout the first 45-lap stage, a segment that was slowed by four yellow flags including the competition caution on lap 20. Crew chief Brian Wilson called his driver to the pit lane during the competition caution for four tires, fuel, and adjustments to aid the loose balance of the No. 22 Mustang. Cindric restarted 26th on lap 25 and steadily worked his way through traffic over the next 20 laps to finish sixth at the conclusion of Stage 1. Wilson made call to pit during the stage caution for four tires. A mix of different pit strategies shuffled Cindric back to 20th when the race went green on lap 51.
The 22-year-old driver raced his way to the eighth position by lap 60 and over the long run, the balance on the Menards/Richmond Ford improved. Cindric began running the fastest lap times on track and finished fifth when the caution-free Stage 2 ended on lap 90. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires and restarted third on lap 97.
Stage 3 was hampered by five cautions with Cindric steadily running among the top-five. He pitted during the eighth caution on lap 159 for four scuffed Goodyears and fuel and took the green flag third on lap 163. He was fourth when the ninth caution on lap 170 set up a restart that changed the complexion of the race. Shortly after the restart on lap 175, playoff drivers Justin Allgaier, Ross Chastain and Brandon Jones were involved in an accident that brought out the final yellow of the race. Cindric took the lead but on lap 185, shortly after the final restart and 15 laps from the finish, he slipped up the racetrack in Turn 4 and fell to the sixth position. He was able to rebound and moved up to fourth in the closing laps to claim a top-five finish.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to action at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, October 31st, for the final race in the Round of 8. Live coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio
Quote: “An up and down day is definitely an understatement, from being driven through at the beginning of the race and having to waste a set of tires to get the Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang back to where it needed to be. We had a car that in clean air I think would have been able to contend for the win. The No. 7 (Justin Allgaier) and the No. 10 (Ross Chastain) were both probably just as good and it was whoever had track position. That last restart did not work out. The track was not clean up high. You got to drive it in like you want to keep the lead and I did. I kept it off the wall. I’m frustrated about that but don’t have any regrets. Somehow, we gained points today. Thanks to my team for sticking with me. I drove every lap 100 percent and I’m just glad this thing is still in one piece.”