The main objective for Austin Cindric (@AustinCindric) in the UNOH 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race Wednesday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway was to gain experience and get laps under his belt. After scoring a respectable 18th-place finish in his first career start, it's a safe bet that the driver of the No. 2 PIRTEK Ford F-150 accomplished just that.
A planned test session at Bristol for Cindric and the team scheduled for earlier this month was cancelled due to track maintenance. The first time that he saw the track was when he walked inside the speedway just 90 minutes before climbing aboard his truck.
But despite not having a lap on the track prior to the first practice session, Cindric rose to the challenge. He steadily came up to speed during the two practice sessions Wednesday morning and finished final practice with the seventh-best overall speed. In an intense qualifying session, Cindric overcame two spins to earn the 27th-place starting position - the final driver to qualify for the race on speed.
When the green flag waved to start the race, Cindric was pinned behind a fellow competitor who was slow to get up to speed.
The sequence of events cost Cindric nearly a straightaway to the field. The lost track position led to Cindric losing a lap to the leaders early, forcing the young driver to play catch-up for the remainder of the race.
He did an admirable job of managing a loose handling Ford F-150 truck early in the race - no small task for a driver with limited experience at Bristol. Cindric did a nice job of racing hard yet simultaneously giving his fellow drivers both room and respect at the tough 0.533-mile Tennessee track.
Cindric ran just outside the top 25 during the first half of the 200-lap race. The handling characteristics of this truck shifted to where he was tight in traffic but steadily worked his up the leaderboard as the race entered its final quarter. He was running 20th when the ninth and final caution slowed the race on lap 188.
The final restart of the race was good for Cindric. The green flag waved on lap 195 and he came up to speed quickly in the outside lane, steering clear of traffic and gaining one position in the final dash to the checkered flag to claim an 18th-place finish.