Brad Keselowski Racing Post-Race Report: Michigan International Speedway
No. 19 Draw-Tite Ford F-150
Austin Cindric just needed a little help from his friends to have a chance to win the LTi Printing 200 at Michigan International Speedway.
Cindric qualified eighth for the 100-lap, 200-mile race and the young driver had his hands full with a loose-handling Ford F-150 during Stage 1. He was running sixth at the completion of the first stage and pitted four tires and a major chassis adjustment under caution on lap 33. He restarted seventh when the race went green on lap 37, but once again was wrestling a truck that was too loose.
The third caution on lap 53 changed the complexion of the race for the No. 19 team. Crew chief Doug Randolph called his driver to pit road on lap 54 for four tires and another big chassis adjustment. The team also took the calculated gamble to go the remaining distance on fuel. Cindric stopped to top off his fuel tank on lap 55 for good measure, and he restarted in the 16th position one lap later. He had climbed up to 11th in the running order when Stage 2 ended on lap 60.
Cindric stayed on the track during the stage break caution while his rivals pitted and lined up second when Stage 3 began on lap 65. One lap later, he grabbed the lead just before the fifth and final caution slowed the race and erased any fuel concerns for Cindric.
He led the field to green on lap 73 and stayed up front until Bubba Wallace made what was the final pass for the lead on lap 90, a three-wide move at the entrance to Turn 3. With two laps to go, the driver of the Draw-Tite Ford F-150 made a bold move in an effort to win the race. Cindric dove under Wallace at the entrance to Turn 1, and the two were side-by-side down the backstretch when the other seven trucks in the lead pack lined up behind Wallace, leaving Cindric all alone in the bottom lane. Without any drafting help, Cindric’s chances to win faded, but the young driver squeezed back in line on the final lap to claim fifth-place at the checkered flag.
The Michigan race was Cindric’s strongest NASCAR Camping World Truck Series performance to date. He led once for 24 laps and spent the final 35 laps leading or jockeying for positions in the lead pack. Cindric scored his fifth consecutive top-10 finish and third top five of the season, plus claimed Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors in back-to-back races for the first time this season.
Austin Cindric: “It was a really good call by Doug to get us out front. Clean air is king at Michigan, and we knew we had a good Draw-Tite Ford F-150 all by ourselves. I had to make a move on the No. 99 (Wallace) there at some point, and we knew we were really good in Turns 1 and 2. I got the side draft on the backstretch and had the momentum. I made the pass stick, but didn’t have any help. That was so close. Maybe I should have saved that move for the last lap. We’ll take another top five and keep moving. Thanks again to everyone at Draw-Tite for their support. It’s awesome to run well in Ford’s backyard, plus the race title sponsor, LTi Printing, is one of our partners at BKR this year. We had a lot of people here to support us.”
Starting Position: 8th
Finishing Position: 5th
Stage Wins: 0
Laps Led: 24
Driver Point Standings: 10th
Points Behind Final Playoff Position: 65
No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150
Chase Briscoe started out strong at Michigan International Speedway, running in the top two for most of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race’s two opening stages. Unfortunately, a flat tire and right-side door damage changed the trajectory of his event, and despite an impressive recovery, Briscoe was only able to pilot his Cooper Standard Ford F-150 up to the ninth position.
Starting the LTi Printing 200 from the fourth position, Briscoe jumped up to second before the conclusion of the first lap. The first caution flag of the day was displayed on lap six when Briscoe was battling side-by-side with John Hunter Nemechek. The tight racing disturbed his competitor’s air, causing the No. 8 to spin, and Briscoe was just inches from getting taken out in the process.
The race went back to green on lap 11, and Briscoe led a lap before relinquishing the point position. He reclaimed the first spot on lap 15, holding onto the lead for the next three circuits before sliding back into second, remaining right on the tail of the leader. The yellow flag indicated the conclusion of the first stage on lap 30, and Briscoe reported that his truck was just a little free center off. His Cooper Standard team provided him with four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment before sending him back onto the track in the third position.
When green-flag racing resumed, Briscoe made an aggressive dive on the restart, going three-wide to advance into second place. He held the second spot for the remainder of Stage 2, once again earning nine valuable bonus points before the yellow flag waved.
When Briscoe visited pit road under yellow, crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. again called for four tires, fuel and wedge. Differing pit strategies shuffled Briscoe to 11th for the start of Stage 3, and he advanced up to eighth when the fifth and final caution came out on lap 66.
Briscoe avoided his competitor’s hard crash, but sensed a problem in his Ford F-150 while circling the track under caution. The team decided not to take any chances, and discovered on pit road that Briscoe had a tire going down, as well as some damage to his right-side door panel. Armed with four fresh tires, it took two pit stops to mend the No. 29’s right side, putting Briscoe in the 18th spot when the race went green on lap 73.
He grabbed seven spots on the first green-flag lap, and then picked off the ninth position on lap 95, but the laps simply ran out before Briscoe could advance any further in the running order. He now sits fourth in the NCWTS driver point standings, just one point behind the third position.
Chase Briscoe: “I really wanted to get a win for Cooper Standard, Ford and all of our partners in their backyard. I had a really fast Ford F-150, and if it wasn’t for the issues we had, we would have had something for them at the end. We just had some bad luck today. My guys built me a really fast Cooper Standard Ford F-150; we certainly have never lacked for speed this season. It has been frustrating to not find Victory Lane this year after being so close, but I feel like we will be really good at Bristol. I’ve never raced there before, but I just have a feeling that it’s going to be my new favorite track.”
Starting Position: 4th
Finishing Position: 9th
Stage Wins: 0
Laps Led: 4
Driver Point Standings: 4th
Points Behind Leader: 63