The Lucas Oil 150 was quite a learning experience for Austin Cindric (@AustinCindric). The driver of the PIRTEK Ford F-150 overcame a couple of spins and other close calls to post a 15th-place finish Friday night at Phoenix (Avondale, Ariz.) International Raceway.
The first close call for the 18-year old driver came on lap 23. Cindric, who started 21st, was up to the 16th position when he found himself on the outside of a three-way battle between Matt Tifft and Noah Gragson. The trio ran out of room in Turn 4 with Cindric and Gragson spinning. Cindric quickly recovered and pitted one lap later for four tires, and he restarted 31st when the race went green on lap 26.
From there, Cindric went to work. He methodically picked his way through traffic, climbing inside the top 20 by lap 39, and was up to 17th place by lap 52 - a gain of 14 positions on a track where passing is difficult at best. He was holding firm to the position when the fifth caution slowed the pace on lap 65. Cindric stopped for four tires and adjustments on lap 68 and lined up 15th when the race went green on lap 73.
He did a nice job on the hectic restart, moving up to 14th by lap 86. He maintained the position despite a loose-handling condition on his Ford F-150. The seventh caution of the race slowed the pace on lap 100 and Cindric restarted 14th on lap 107. One lap later, Cindric spun in Turn 4, just in front of teammate Daniel Hemric. He pitted on lap 109 for four tires and lined up 20th when the green flag waved on lap 111.
Once again, Cindric did a commendable job making up the lost track position. He grabbed two positions on the restart and moved up to 17th place by lap 118. Cindric maintained that position through the remainder of the green-flag run until the ninth caution on lap 142, just eight laps from the finish. He stayed on the track and moved up to 14th place for the final four-lap dash to the finish. Cindric lost just one position (to teammate Tyler Reddick) during the final scramble to the checkered flag.