AUSTIN CINDRIC BREAKDOWN
Needing a solid finish to stay alive in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, Austin Cindric delivered a second-place finish Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
Cindric grabbed his seventh top five of the season and best finish to date on an intermediate track. He moved up to fourth in the series championship standings, five points ahead of fifth-place Ben Rhodes. Cindric led a personal-best 39 laps and claimed his 14th top-10 finish in 2017. The driver of the No. 19 Fitzgerald Ford F-150 has been red hot over the last five races with a sizzling average finish of 4.83.
Cindric started sixth in the 147-lap race and was running there when the second caution on lap 27 set up a four-lap dash to end Stage 1. He didn’t pit during the late-stage caution and lined up third when the race went green on lap 32. Cindric held firm to the position to close out the first stage, despite a loose handling Fitzgerald Ford F-150. He pitted on lap 38 for four tires and adjustments, and a variety of pit strategies among those on the lead lap shuffled him back to the 13th position for the start of Stage 2 on lap 43.
Twelve laps later, Cindric was back inside the top 10 when he passed Grant Enfinger for 10th-place. The third caution slowed the pace on lap 59, and Doug Randolph called his driver to the pit lane on lap 60 for right-side tires. Cindric gained one position in the exchange, thanks to excellent pit work by the Fitzgerald team. He restarted ninth when the race went green on lap 64 and was up to seventh when Stage 2 ended on lap 70.
Randolph chose not to pit during the caution between stages, and while others ahead of him chose to pit, Cindric moved into the lead on lap 73. The race went green on lap 77 and for the next 32 laps, Cindric held the top spot. He was leading a four-truck pack for the lead when Johnny Sauter dove to his outside between Turns 1 and 2 on lap 109 and took the lead, dropping Cindric to fourth-place.
All the leaders had one final pit stop remaining and the cycle began on lap 117 under green. Cindric got right-side tires and returned to the track on Sauter’s bumper. When the cycle was complete, the two were four seconds ahead of their nearest competitor with just 12 laps to go. Cindric looked high and low over the final laps but, try as he might, couldn’t find a way past the leader, crossing the finish line just 0.170 seconds behind his competitor.
CHASE BRISCOE BREAKDOWN
Chase Briscoe was anxious to return to Texas Motor Speedway and attempted to capture the victory that eluded him by inches earlier this year. Briscoe struggled with the handling of his Cooper Standard Ford F-150 and lost track position early in the race, but rallied back to grab a fourth-place finish in the JAG Metals 350 Friday night.
Briscoe took the green from the 10th position and immediately reported to crew chief Buddy Sisco that his truck fired off “wrecking loose.” A caution on lap five gave the Brad Keselowski Racing team the opportunity to adjust the handling, and Sisco called for an adjustment-only pit stop, opting for both wedge and track-bar adjustments. As one of the only drivers to visit pit road, Briscoe lined up 29th when the field saw the green flag on lap 10. Briscoe worked his way up to 16th before the caution flag was displayed on lap 27, and he came in for service once again, this time taking four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. Briscoe maintained his position on pit road, and was able to gain one more spot before closing out the first stage in 15th. Briscoe relayed that the No. 29 was sideways in the center of the turns and tight off, but Sisco made the call to keep his driver on the track at an attempt to gain track position.
Kicking off the second stage from the eighth position, Briscoe gained two spots before the caution flag waved on lap 59. Still needing his truck to be a little bit tighter, Briscoe once again pitted, taking four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. Scored 11th on the restart, the Cooper Standard Ford F-150 dropped to 14th by the conclusion of Stage 2. The BKR team made to call to remain on the track, and Briscoe lined up fifth for the final green flag of the race on lap 77.
Briscoe patiently and persistently stalked the leaders, closing in on them from the third position when green flag pit stops began on lap 109. He took over the lead on lap 117, and then pulled off the track for the final stop of the night on the following lap. Sisco called for right-side tires and fuel, and Briscoe returned to the track inside the top 15. Briscoe picked his way through the field, emerging fourth when pit stops finally cycled through. Unable to make up any more ground, Briscoe crossed the finish line fourth, earning his eighth top five of the season.