Austin Cindric clinches playoff spot with win in Canada
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park has a knack for hosting dramatic finishes, and Austin Cindric created one of his own in today’s Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
A dramatic last-lap incident saw Cindric push his No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford into the back of the No. 33 GMS Racing Chevrolet of Kaz Grala to push his way past and punch his ticket into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs by claiming his first victory of the year.
Cindric started the final lap of the 64-lap race less than a truck length behind Grala, and by the time the two rookie racers had reached the back of the circuit at Turn 5 they were nose to tailgate. Cindric made square front-to-back contact with Grala and sent him sideways, which allowed him to move past into the lead and, eventually, into Victory Lane.
"I wanted to pass him clean because I’m all about that," Cindric said. "I feel like this is what NASCAR racing is about. You have to win to make a playoff position. You can’t finish second.
"Everyone (who has won at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) made the move in the last corner. I figured I might as well change that."
Noah Gragson in the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota squeezed by Grala’s skid to finish in second-place, while Grala recovered and ended the day in third.
"He didn’t even attempt to pass," Grala said of the incident. "He just drove right in there and used me as his brakes, turned me straight around and gave me no opportunity.
"Just a dirty move. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a road course racer but lost a lot today."
Cindric’s victory was made all the more remarkable by how much ground he was forced to recover due to a mid-race penalty. After starting on the pole and winning a caution-free first stage – which earned him his first playoff point of the season – he pitted on Lap 32 and left his stall with the fuel canister still attached, drawing a stop-and-go penalty. Due to the length of the 2.45-mile road course he was able to stay on the lead lap, but he rejoined deep in the field.
By five laps in to the final stage, he had worked his way back into top 10. Five laps later, he was back in the top five. And after he pushed his way past Gragson for second on lap 61, he was able to make steady gains over the final three laps to position himself to make his move on Grala.
Rounding out the top 10 were Justin Haley, Ryan Truex, Johnny Sauter, Chase Briscoe, Parker Kligerman, Austin Wayne Self, and Ben Rhodes.
The Chevrolet Silverado 250 was the second-last race before the start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs. The final chance for drivers to earn a berth comes in two weeks at the Chicagoland 225, which will run on Friday, September 15th.