RICHMOND, Va. – Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway was as close as Austin Cindric has come to a victory in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition.
Unfortunately for the Team Penske driver, things just didn’t quite pan out in his favor at the finish.
Cindric tied his career-best Xfinity Series finish with a runner-up result at the three-quarter-mile, D-shaped Virginia oval, coming in second at the checkered flag behind race winner Cole Custer.
But for a few laps in the closing stages, it looked like it might have finally been Cindric’s night.
The 20-year-old got a picture-perfect jump on the final restart of the race, blitzing the outside and taking the top spot away from Custer with 26 to go, after a spin by Noah Gragson set up the sprint to the finish.
However, Cindric just didn’t have the long-run pace to stay out front and Custer closed back in.
With an outside sweep on lap 231, Custer retook the lead from Cindric and proceeded to stretch the margin out by more than two seconds in the closing laps, leaving Cindric to settle for second.
Friday’s performance marked Cindric’s best oval-track finish and matched his effort from
“It is great to get LTi Printing a great finish here at Richmond and be able to capitalize on what was a better short run car tonight,” said Cindric. “Congrats to Cole and those guys, though. I tried my best on that restart to hold him off … but they were obviously the class of the field, he and the 7 (Justin Allgaier).
“I knew I had my money cut out for me,” Cindric added. “If I at least got the restart, it gave me the chance to win it on rain or something happening, but it just didn’t quite work out for us.”
With his finish on Friday night, Cindric made himself Dash-4-Cash eligible for the series’ next event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in two weeks’ time.
“We had some fun and got some points and now we will move on to Talladega for the MoneyLion 300,” noted Cindric. “That will be a big one for me. I would love to win that race and the Dash for Cash at Talladega.”
Cindric leaves Richmond with his third top-five finish of the season and now sits fourth in points.
“I think we overachieved today,” he said. “We could fire off on restarts great. [Custer’s] car was just more balanced and had more complete-run speed. The fact he was able to fire off on older tires and still hold the lead was pretty impressive.
“This is a long season. We’re eight races in and if we have more days like this, we’re going to be a serious contender.”