Team Penske NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Report - Darlington

September 5, 2021

Track:    Darlington Raceway
Race:     Sports Clips Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200
Date:     August 4, 2021 
No. 22 Snap-on Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric  
Start: 24th
Stage 1: 7th
Stage 2: 3rd
Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 152/152
Laps Led: 1
Driver Point Standings (behind second): 2nd (-1)

  • Consistency was key for Austin Cindric and the No. 22 Snap-on Ford team Saturday afternoon at Darlington Raceway. Cindric was rewarded with a third-place finish, his best in six previous starts at the historic, egg-shaped oval. He closed within just one point of championship leader AJ Allmendinger with just two races left in the battle for the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season championship.
  • The starting lineup was once again set per the NASCAR rule book, which gave Cindric the 24th-place starting position. The driver of the Snap-on Ford showed speed early, steadily working his way through traffic. Cindric was up to 10th position by the competition caution on lap 20. The balance on the No. 22 Mustang was a little tight for Cindric over the remaining laps of the segment and he was credited with a seventh-place finish when Stage 1 concluded on lap 45. During the stage caution, crew chief Brian Wilson called for an air pressure adjustment plus four tires and fuel and Cindric restarted sixth on lap 53.
  • He gained three positions on the restart following the fourth caution on lap 64, moving up to third. Cindric held firm to the position despite the close, side-by-side racing during the remainder of the stage – including a three-wide scramble on the final lap – to finish third in Stage 2. Wilson once again called his driver to pit road during the stage caution for four tires, fuel, plus tape and restarted fourth on lap 97.
  • The sixth caution on lap 110 set up a round of pit stops among the leaders. The Snap-on Mustang received four fresh tires, and fuel and Cindric restarted seventh when the race went green on lap 115. He appeared destined to finish sixth until the seventh yellow in lap 139 changed his fortune. Cindric pitted for four tires and an air pressure adjustment to help his car turn better. He lined up seventh for the restart on lap 142 two laps later was running second behind race leader Noah Gragson.
  • The eighth caution on lap 146 pushed the race in NASCAR Overtime and gave Cindric a chance to win the race. He restarted outside race leader Gragson but was shuffled back to third at the drop of the green flag. Cindric collected his best finish at Darlington and his 15th top-five finish in 24 starts this season. 

Quote: "I feel like the bottom was definitely the place to be for just the launch, especially for the front row. I knew the outside was the safe play.  From there, I thought we had a really good long run car. I'm proud of what we gained today with the Snap-on Ford Mustang.  It's definitely the best race I feel like I've had at Darlington, just having the strength, and not having too many weaknesses.  As a team, that takes a lot of conversations throughout the week to try to get that right, so we righted a lot of wrongs for me at this racetrack today.  I feel good about that."