Cindric Advances to Round of 6 While Briscoe’s Playoff Hopes Go Up in Smoke

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Brad Keselowski Racing NCWTS Post-Race Report: Talladega Superspeedway

No. 19 LTi Ford F-150

Austin Cindric picked off five positions on the final lap to score a fifth-place finish in the fred’s 250 on Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. His sixth top-five finish of the season vaulted him into the Round of 6 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. The driver of the LTi Printing Ford F-150 enters the next round as the sixth seed in the championship standings, 40 points behind the leader Christopher Bell, but within seven points of third-place Matt Crafton. Cindric collected his third-consecutive top 10 and 10th top-10 finish in the last 11 races.

Cindric started sixth in the 95-lap race. He was squeezed out of line on the initial start of the race and fell in line near the tail end of the lead draft pack. As Stage 1 drew to a close, Cindric had worked his way up to the 12th position. Crew chief Doug Randolph made the call to pit under green on lap 17, a move designed to give Cindric track position for the next segment.

The leaders pitted during the stage break on lap 24 and Cindric restarted from the lead when Stage 2 began on lap 26. After a brief shuffle at the front of the pack on the restart, Cindric ran fourth in tight formation in the lead draft until the stage ended on lap 40. He pitted on lap 43 for four tires and fuel, and a mix of pit strategies among the leaders shuffled him back to the 11th position when Stage 3 began on lap 47.

With his playoff competition encountering misfortune, the No. 19 team chose to race smart as the event roared past halfway, running near the tail end of the lead draft. He dodged five-truck accidents on laps 55 and 71, the latter drawing an eight minute red flag for track cleanup. When the dust settled, Cindric pitted for four tires and restarted 10th on lap 77. He was jockeying for positions in the lead pack when the fifth yellow was displayed on lap 91, setting up one final restart and the extending the race into overtime.

Cindric lined up 10th for the final two-lap dash and dove into the low line between Turns 1 and 2 on the restart. He took the white flag in the seventh position then dodged an incident triggered when Noah Gragson and Johnny Sauter made contact in Turn 1, collecting five trucks and forcing the race to end under yellow. Cindric crossed the finish line in fifth, capturing a spot in the next round of the Playoffs.

Austin Cindric: “I said that if my LTi Printing Ford F-150 looked like it did at the start of the race when it ended, it would be a good day, and it was for sure. All the guys at BKR did an awesome job in developing an even better speedway package. The people that we were fighting against had troubles. We got some stage points and built up a nice margin and, really, we were able to ride there until the last nine laps or so. Then we decided there was nothing to lose at that point, and tried to make something of it and ended up P5. I’m really happy with that. I’m really proud of these guys at BKR for everything they’ve done this year. It’s a shame the No. 29 can’t transfer on. That’s a real bummer because they’re just as good as anybody out there. It’s too bad we can’t have two Fords up there, but I’ll be more than happy to carry the flag. This is the last race with LTi Printing on the truck and we’re thankful to them for being such a great partner.”

Starting Position: 6th

Finishing Position: 5th

Status: Running

Stage Wins: 0

Laps Led: 3

Playoff Seeding: 6th

No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford

Chase Briscoe’s chances to advance in the NASCAR Playoffs were derailed by a valve cover issue that sent him to the garage area in the early laps of the fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. While the team fought valiantly to earn every possible point and remained in contention until the final lap, it was not enough to advance to the next round of the Playoffs.

Taking the green flag from the fifth position, Briscoe and the lead pack pulled away in a single file line, hoping to get ahead of the mayhem and avoid a potential crash. Unfortunately, on lap five, Briscoe’s spotter reported that the Cooper Standard Ford F-150 was smoking badly. Briscoe had no choice but to bring his truck to the garage, and the Brad Keselowski Racing team worked quickly to diagnose and repair an oil leak in the valve cover. The team only lost 10 laps in the process, and returned to the track just prior to a caution on lap 20 of the 95-lap race.

Taking the wave around allowed Briscoe to earn back one of his laps, but he was mired in the 29th position and would need to depend on the misfortune of others to make up the points needed to advance. The Cooper Standard team fought hard for the remainder of the race and remained in the hunt as the point standings fluctuated throughout the race. They worked themselves up to the 22nd position before the checkered flag waved, but the deficit was simply too much to overcome. Briscoe ultimately came up eight points short, eliminating the team from Playoff contention.

Chase Briscoe: “Today was tough, but I’m really proud of the how this team handled our valve cover issue. We recovered as quickly as we could and we did everything possible to get every point we could to advance. In the end, I was just trying to help everyone we could to get them in front of the No. 8. It’s tough, because if you look back at Loudon, that’s one that really got away and we should have had a lot more points there. And if we’d gotten the four or five wins we could have had this year, we would have had enough Playoff points that we wouldn’t have been in this situation anyway. It’s definitely a tough one today, but we can’t point the finger at this race as the reason we didn’t make it. It’s hard to look at the positives right now, but last year this team qualified 15th and 16th, and we came here and qualified fifth and sixth. It just shows that, even though we’re shutting down at the end of the year, we’re still trying to fight and we’re making huge gains in our program. Our guys are still working hard. We’ll go on to the next four weeks and try to get a win for these Cooper Standard guys. They definitely deserve one.”

Starting Position: 5th

Finishing Position: 22nd

Status: Running

Stage Wins: 0

Laps Led: 0

Points Position: 7th