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Cindric Claims First ARCA Victory in Crosley Brands 150
As the Crosley Brands 150 stretched beyond its scheduled distance on Friday at Kentucky Speedway, thoughts of taking home the winner's trophy danced in Austin Cindric's mind.
The prized jukebox eluded the 18-year-old in the same race one year earlier. A determined drive assured it would not slip from his reach again.
Cindric led the final 53 laps of the ARCA Racing Series event and scored his first victory in five career starts in the series.
"I promise you, the last two laps all I was thinking about was that jukebox," he said. "I was like, 'Man, I'm gonna get it. I'm gonna get it.'"
The race went two laps longer than originally prescribed because of a multi-car wreck with six laps remaining that forced a green-white-checkered flag overtime finish.
Cindric had not pitted since Lap 26 while virtually everyone behind his No. 99 Cunningham Motorsports Ford on the resulting Lap 100 restart had fresher tires and more fuel than him. Even so, Cindric quickly pulled away and beat Dalton Sargeant to the finish line by .528 seconds. Matt Tifft finished third followed by Tom Hessert and Matt Kurzejewski.
"I had no concerns about fuel," said Cindric, who started third. "Brian (Wilson, crew chief) got us to where we were good for one more green-white-checkered and I know the 55 (Sargeant) was pretty aggressive under caution, so you knew he wanted to get buy. Rubbing doors. Rubbing tires. You just put that behind you and get the job done."
The son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric competes in multiple racing disciplines and has won a pair of NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races this year.
His second-ever start in a stock car came in the Crosley Brands 150 last fall at Kentucky Speedway. He was leading the race when a cut tire ruined his shot at a victory.
"The jukebox was very hard not to take home last year, I'll be honest with you," he said.
Sargeant's runner-up performance in the No. 55 Venturini Motorsports Toyota was his 12th top 10 finish in 14 ARCA starts this season and his best showing on a speedway.
"Everything worked out pretty well," Sargeant said. "I had a chance to battle for the lead, which was pretty cool. That's pretty much all that you can ask for. We had a shot and capitalized on what we had."
Friday's race was slowed by six cautions. The fifth caution took the pole sitter and series points leader out of contention.
Chase Briscoe began the night with a 560-point lead over Hessert but an encounter with John Wes Townley late in the race put a damper on what had been a redemptive day up to that point.
Briscoe shattered the series' qualifying record at Kentucky Speedway with a lap of 184.546 mph in the No. 77 Cunningham Motorsports Ford. In all, nine drivers posted laps faster than the old record of 179.247 mph posted by Brian Ickler in July 2009.
"It was fast, I can tell you that much," Briscoe said. "It was pretty hairy. We're almost wide open all the way around here."
The car that Briscoe drove to the pole position was the same one that he wrecked on his first lap during an open test session held Tuesday at Kentucky Speedway. The team loaded the car onto its transporter, drove it back to North Carolina for repairs and returned to Sparta, Ky.
"The whole front of this car was torn apart after we crashed at the test," he said. "I'm proud that we brought back a good car. It had a lot of speed."
Briscoe was racing side-by-side with Sargeant after a restart with 24 laps remaining when Townley came up fast behind Briscoe and tried to squeeze between Briscoe and the outside wall along the backstretch. He ran out of room and made contact with Briscoe.
Briscoe finished 22nd and Townley finished 23rd. The championship will be decided in the series' final race of the season on Oct. 14 at Kansas Speedway.
"I really wanted to win here and lock up the championship here just because it's so close to home," said Briscoe, who hails from Mitchell, Indiana. "All I have to do is show up at Kansas. But at the same time, it's just unfortunate. I really wanted to do it here. We'll just go on to the next one. I really enjoyed this Kentucky racetrack. It was pretty fast. I'm looking forward to getting back here."
Friday's race marked the 23rd run by ARCA on the 1.5-mile track, but first, since it was repaved and reconfigured over the offseason.
Cindric said the track is different yet similar. Either way, it suits him well.
"I was a bit worried heading into the race about how the whole field was going to be able to race together, especially based off of the XFINITY race here in (July) where guys weren't really able to run in traffic. But I think we produced a great show," he said. "I was able to use about half of the high lane and I was able to cut under people and I think my car was working really, really well and that's a credit to Brian and the guys. They gave us a great pit stop and got us the track position and got that lead and I tried not to look back."