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


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.    
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. 
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Steven B. Wilson

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