Team Penske NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Report
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Race: Circle K Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola
Date: July 5, 2019
No. 22 Pirtek Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric
Stage 1: 15th
Stage 2: 10th
Laps Completed: 100/100
Laps Led: 0
Driver Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-119 leader)
Austin Cindric rallied back from early damage to score a fifth-place finish in the Circle K Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola Friday evening at Daytona International Speedway. The driver of the Pirtek Ford racked up his 13th top-five finish and his 26th top-10 finish in 50 career NASCAR Xfinity Series races. Cindric remains fourth in in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver point standings, 119 points behind leader Tyler Reddick and 38 points behind third place driver Cole Custer.
Cindric started the rain delayed 100-lap race from the 19th-place starting position. Once the green-flag waived the Mooresville, N.C. native held the 19th-position. On lap 9, the No. 90 of Caesar Bacarella spun causing a multi-car crash. Cindric, with no place to go, received right-side damage from the incident. Crew chief Brian Wilson called the driver of the Pirtek Ford to pit road on lap 10 to evaluate and fix the damage and receive four fresh tires, fuel and minor adjustments to aid Cindric’s tight Mustang.
Cindric would return to the track in the 24th position once the race resumed on lap 13 and race his way to 14th before the pace was slowed for the second time on lap 23 for another multi-car incident. As the field was checking up, Cindric’s Pirtek Ford received slight damage. Wilson called his driver to pit road on lap 25 from the 14th position to seal the hood. He would rejoin the field in 30th with two laps remaining in the first stage and race his way to the 15th position by the conclusion of the first 30-lap stage. Cindric would pit at the stage caution on lap 32 for fuel only and restart 12th.
Cindric would race his way to the ninth position, before getting shuffled to 16th. The pace was slowed for a fourth time on lap 45. Cindric would remain on track during the caution allowing him to restart 12th with 10 laps remaining in the Stage 2 and race to 10th by the end of the second stage. Cindric was called to pit road during the stage caution on lap 62 for four tires, fuel and minor adjust to help the travel on his Ford. A fast stop by the No. 22 Pirtek pit crew would allow Cindric to restart the final stage eighth on lap 65.
Once the race restarted the field was running three-wide with Cindric on the bottom lane. He avoided disaster on lap 79 slicing and dicing through spinning cars and the red flag was displayed for cleanup. Wilson called the driver of the No. 22 Pirtek Ford down pit road under the caution from the eighth position. Cindric would restart form the 15th position. The last 10 laps remained caution free allowing Cindric to race his way to fifth-place finish at the checkered flag.
Quote: “Yeah, for a while I thought we had a shot at the win. I feel like if you had less teammates up there maybe we could have done something or helped the 20 or trying to advance our spot there, but we’ll take it. It had been a pretty boring weekend so far, but I’m eating my words for that for sure. I mean, we were involved in just about everything there was, not necessarily by our own fault, but it was perseverance and a team effort. Those guys did an awesome job of getting the car in fighting shape and then obviously I was able to make the right moves and get us up into contention. Fun fact: Every single race I’ve ran in Daytona this year I’ve finished fifth – no matter if I’m in a Ford Mustang in GTB, an Xfinity car both times, I don’t know what it is about this place, but I guess we’ll take it.”