Briscoe Leads BKR into Playoffs with Runnerup Finish in Regular Season Finale at Chicagoland


Austin Cindric experienced his share of struggles during 225 at Chicagoland Speedway, but one bright spot was the lightning-quick performance of the Draw-Tite pit crew.  
Cindric started seventh in the 150-lap, 225-mile event, and from the opening laps, he struggled with a truck that was too tight. He was running 13th at the time of the second caution on lap 12. Two laps later, he pitted for four tires and major chassis adjustments and restarted 21st when the race went green on lap 17.
For brief period during the next run, the handling characteristics of Cindric’s Draw-Tite Ford F-150 improved. He gained seven positions on the restart and was running 13th at the time of the third yellow on lap 31. He pitted on lap 32 for four tires and another major chassis adjustment. The race went green with one lap remaining in Stage 1. Cindric made a daring move on the restart, slicing his way through traffic and moving to the sixth position, just behind teammate Chase Briscoe. Neither BKR driver pitted during the stage break, and the two restarted on the front row when the race went green on lap 35.
Once again, Cindric had his hands full during the next green-flag run, primarily from the center of Turns 3 and 4 through the exit of the corner. He finished fifth in Stage 2 on lap 72 and made a four-tire stop one lap later. Speedy work on pit lane by the Draw-Tite pit crew moved Cindric up to third for the restart on lap 78.
Another long green-flag run followed, and Cindric was still wrestling a truck that was just too tight. The sixth and final caution slowed the pace on lap 107 and Cindric hit pit road for a four-tire stop on lap 108. Unfortunately, the young driver slid through the pit box and returned to the track in the 12th position. Crew chief Doug Randolph called his driver back to pit lane one lap later to put on a set of scuffed tires, gambling that he could catch one more caution where he would have the opportunity to put back on new tires and give his driver an advantage in the final run to the finish.
Cindric gamely held on as best he could, but the needed yellow flag never waved. He was running 13th when he made an unscheduled stop on lap 149 to tighten possible loose lug nuts and was credited with a 15th-place finish in the final rundown. He will enter the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs as the sixth seed, 33 points behind the leader.   
Chase Briscoe seemed to be on the brink of his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory as he attempted to go back-to-back at Chicagoland Speedway. After earning the win in the ARCA Racing Series in 2016, Briscoe had a fast truck and knew how to get around the 1.5-mile racetrack. Unfortunately, a loose condition and heavy lapped traffic caused him to come up just shy of a win, and he ultimately finished second in the final race of the NCWTS regular season.
The No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150 was fast from the moment it was unloaded, pacing the first practice session of the weekend. Briscoe took the green flag from the front row and was scored second when the caution flag waved on lap 12. Briscoe dropped to third after the lap 17 restart and reported that his Cooper Standard Ford was too loose. Visiting pit road following the lap-31 yellow flag, crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. called for four tires, fuel and both air-pressure and wedge adjustments. Several trucks opted to remain on the track, which put Briscoe in the 10th position for the one-lap shootout for the stage win. With a big push from his teammate, Briscoe was able to jump to fifth before the conclusion of the segment.
Without the need to pit during the stage break, Briscoe took over the lead for the lap 43 restart and held it for 17 laps before dropping back to second. Reporting that he was still loose center off, Briscoe was again called to pit road for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments. Restarting from the fourth position on lap 78, Briscoe once again jumped up to second, but he continued to struggle with a loose condition and stated that he couldn’t get into the corner with his current handling. Briscoe had one final opportunity to visit pit road for adjustments on lap 107, and his Cooper Standard crew once again provided him with four tires, fuel and adjustments. A fast pit stop allowed him to win the race off pit road, but with one competitor remaining on the racetrack, he’d restart second for the final green-flag stretch.
A wild three-wide restart forced Briscoe back to fourth, but he methodically stalked his competitors, taking over the third position on lap 122 and making the pass for second on lap 135. A hard battle for the second spot put him 2.215-seconds behind the leader, but the Cooper Standard machine was consistently the fastest truck on the racetrack and gaining ground. It appeared that Briscoe would quickly close the gap on the leader, but lapped traffic hindered his progress, preventing him from earning his first win of 2017. Briscoe’s solid night gained him a position in the regular season point standings, and he will be seeded fifth when the NCWTS Playoffs begin next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.      
Speedway Digest Staff

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