BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
RACE: FOOD CITY DIRT RACE DATE: APRIL 9, 2023
AUSTIN CINDRIC No. 2 DISCOUNT TIRE FORD MUSTANG
START – 7TH STAGE ONE – 19TH STAGE TWO – 32ND FINISH – 19TH
RACE RUNDOWN: Austin Cindric finished 19th in the third edition of the Food City Dirt Race Sunday evening on the red Tennessee clay at Bristol Motor Speedway. Cindric rolled off the grid seventh after a stout performance in his heat race. Cindric maintained his top-10 pace for the first chunk of Stage 1 but slipped to 19th at the end of the segment as he struggled with drive off. Under the six-minute service clock, Cindric pitted for a list of adjustments to aid the handling of the car in preparation for Stage 2. Cindric restarted 19th and navigated a slew of cautions, but sustained damage to the right rear toward the end of the stage, dropping to 32nd. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang steered the car to pit road for the second service break to receive a right-rear toe link repair, fresh tires, adjustments and fuel. Cindric restarted 32nd for the final showdown and avoided various late-race incidents to collect a 19th-place finish.
CINDRIC’S THOUGHTS: “Yeah, it was a pretty crazy night. I wish I could do it all over again with my experience from tonight and just kind of knowing where the track was going to go and what I needed out of my car. I feel like we could have saved ourselves from losing some track position early. I got to trying too hard to run the top and made a mistake, getting some damage. The team did a great job fixing it and getting the toe link swapped back on. We made some spots back up and clawed back through the field to get inside the top 20, avoiding some craziness. Overall, it was an OK day, but kind of a disappointment after a really good Saturday. I learned a lot.”
RYAN BLANEY No. 12 MENARDS/MAYTAG FORD MUSTANG
START – 9TH STAGE ONE – 5TH STAGE TWO – 8TH FINISH – 23RD
RACE RUNDOWN: Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 team brought a strong Menards/Maytag Ford Mustang to Sunday night’s Food City Dirt Race as it showed top-five speed from the drop of the green flag. Blaney fought through a loose-handling condition on the entry and exit of the corners in the opening stage, but battled to cross the line fifth in Stage 1. Following a four-tire stop and a round of adjustments at the stage break, Blaney maintained his spot in the top-10 as the track began to change. He kept alternating between the high and low lines throughout Stage 2 while adapting to a slicker track surface, resulting in an eighth-place finish in the stage. Despite falling outside the top-10 in the early laps of the final stage, Blaney started to make his move forward by wrapping the bottom line in the corners and eventually made his way back into the top-five by lap 221. With under 20 laps to go, he picked off the next two in front of him to sit third in the running order before the caution flag flew on lap 235. Blaney chose the bottom lane to restart on the inside of row one as the field took the green flag with eight laps to go, but was spun by the No. 14 in turn one after contact with the left rear. Blaney avoided contact, but the race stayed green the rest of the way resulting in a 23rd-place finish.
BLANEY’S THOUGHTS: “I was excited to start on the front row [on the final restart]. I thought that we were kind of making the middle work and I was really pumped to start on the front row and see what we had, but we never got a shot. The 14 hit us from behind and that was it.”