Briscoe Dominates, Late-Race Shuffle Costly For Cindric at Gateway

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Brad Keselowski Racing Post-Race Report: Gateway Motorsports Park

No. 19 Draw-Tite Ford F-150

A late-race bump and traffic jam robbed Austin Cindric of a top-10 finish in the Drivin’ For Linemen 200 Saturday night at Gateway Motorsports Park.

As the 160-lap event entered its closing stages, Cindric, who started fifth, was in position to score a well-deserved top-10 finish. The driver of the No. 19 Draw-Tite Ford F-150 lined up in the eighth position for the final restart on lap 152 with the benefit of fresher tires than his fellow competitors.

Cindric had made his final scheduled stop of the race under green on lap 135 and crew chief Doug Randolph made the strategic decision to change four tires.  All they needed now was one more caution to bunch up the field and give Cindric a chance to utilize his tire advantage.

They got their wish on lap 149 when the third and final caution slowed the pace. Cindric lined up eighth for the final restart on lap 153, but contact with another competitor one lap later moved him up the track and shuffled him back to 13th place. Cindric immediately recovered and rallied back up to the eighth position by the final lap of the race. Unfortunately, he came up on the short end of a three-wide battle for position within sight of the checkered flag, crossing the finish line in 11th place.

Austin Cindric: “We had a lot of people from Draw-Tite, Team Redneck, PIRTEK and Hope For The Warriors at the track this weekend, and I want to thank them for their support. On the last restart, we had better tires than everybody else, which we knew was going to be an advantage. I started picking off spots and I feel like by the end of the backstretch, I got up to about sixth or seventh and then they all checked up in front of me. I went wide to miss it, and then the truck behind me moved me way up the racetrack. I got freight-trained by everybody behind me and I had to pass pretty much every truck that was on the racetrack. I downshifted on just about every pass trying to make something happen.”

No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Ford F-150

Chase Briscoe did everything but take home the trophy in Saturday night’s Drivin’ For Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Briscoe won the pole (his second of the 2017 season), led the most laps (88 of 160) and scored his first stage win of the season. The driver of Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation Ford F-150 came up just short once again, scoring a second-place finish and earning Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors for the third time this season.

After taking the green flag from the point position, Briscoe quickly settled into second for the duration of the first 35-lap stage. Briscoe reported to interim crew chief Buddy Sisco that his No. 29 Ford F-150 was really good in Turns 1 and 2, but free in and tight center off in Turns 3 and 4. Sisco called his rookie driver to pit road, and a fast stop for two tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment put Briscoe back in the lead for the start of Stage 2. Briscoe led the second stage from flag to flag (laps 40-73) in dominating fashion, earning his first stage win of the season and a valuable playoff point.

Briscoe said his truck had fired off loose in Turns 3 and 4, but had tightened up by the end of the run. Sisco called for four tires, fuel and another minor adjustment, and Briscoe returned to the track in the fourth position on lap 78. It was not long before Briscoe reclaimed the lead on lap 81, and the rookie driver led the next 54 circuits, until he made a green-flag, fuel-only pit stop. Briscoe returned to the track in second place, and slipped to third before the final yellow flag of the night was displayed on lap 149. Briscoe told his crew chief that he didn’t know if he could beat the two trucks in front of him on old tires, so the team made a bold decision to pit for four tires. He lined up 13th for the final eight-lap dash to the finish. The fresh tires allowed Briscoe to work his way all the way up to second place, but he was unable to claim the final position needed to visit Victory Lane.

Chase Briscoe: “Tonight was a really great night for Brad Keselowski Racing and I’m proud of this team. We’ve had fast Ford F-150s at every single race this year, but this was the first time we really dominated. We realized during that last caution that we probably were not going to be able to beat the top-two trucks without tires, so we pitted. It was definitely the right decision, because I could get through the corner so much better than everyone else there at the end. I just had too much front brake in it for the first two laps after that restart and kept locking the wheels up. The distance I lost doing that really cost us from being there with the No. 8 (John Hunter Nemechek) at the end. I don’t know if we would have beat him, but we definitely would have been right there with him. I was also really honored to run Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation on our Ford F-150 this weekend. We had some special guests from Hope for the Warriors with us and I wish we could have gotten them the win.”