Top-Five Finishes Keep Playoff Hopes Alive for Briscoe and Cindric

Nothing in NASCAR racing comes easy and no better example of that was Austin Cindric‘s fourth-place finish Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Cindric overcame a damaged race truck and a mid-race spin to rally back for his fifth top-five finish of the season. He holds the final transfer position into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs Round of 6 with an eight point edge over seventh-place Kaz Grala and is up 14 points on eighth-place John Hunter Nemechek.
The driver of the No. 19 LTi Printing Ford F-150 started seventh in the 146-lap event and settled into 10th position during the opening laps of the race. As the run progressed, Cindric’s truck ran faster and he moved up to eighth when Stage 1 ended on lap 35. He made a four-tire stop and on lap 38, and speedy service on the pit lane moved him up to sixth for the start of Stage 2 on lap 42.
As the field came up to speed, Cindric and Johnny Sauter made contact at the entrance to Turn 1, when Sauter slowed in front of him, bringing out the third caution of the race and caving in the nose of the No. 19 Ford F-150. He made two stops for repairs and a four-tire change, and restarting 11th when the race went green on lap 47. Cindric picked up two spots on the restart and was racing side-by-side with Grant Enfinger for eighth when he spun on lap 57, causing the fourth caution of the race. Fortunately, his truck wasn’t damaged in the spin and he pitted one lap later for four tires and restarted 13th on lap 61. Despite a loose-handling truck, Cindric worked his way up to eighth by the end of Stage 2 on lap 70.
He pitted on lap 73 for fuel and a track-bar adjustment and restarted second when the final stage began on lap 77. A chaotic restart combined with a loose handling truck shuffled Cindric outside the top 10, but he recovered and was running ninth when a cycle of green-flag stops began among the leaders on lap 122. Cindric stopped for right-side tires and fuel on lap 125, and speedy pit work moved him to sixth when the cycle was complete.
The final caution came out on lap 133, setting up a final round of pit stops and a seven-lap dash to the finish, both working to Cindric’s advantage. He pitted on lap 135 for left-side tires and adjustments and restarted ninth on lap 140. Cindric picked off three positions when the race went green and was up to fourth by lap 144, but couldn’t move any further up the leaderboard by the time the checkered flag waved three laps later. 
Chase Briscoedominated early in the Las Vegas 350, leading every lap of the opening segment and earning a valuable win in Stage 1. However, quickly-changing track conditions took a toll on the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150 as day turned to night, forcing Briscoe to rally back in the closing laps to earn a third-place finish.
After qualifying third, Briscoe rocketed to the lead following the wave of the green flag, occupying the point position throughout the 35-lap segment, winning the stage by more than a one-second margin and earning a valuable playoff point. Briscoe described his truck as “perfect” in Turns 1 and 2 and tight back to throttle in Turns 3 and 4, and crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. made the call for four tires, fuel and just a minor air-pressure adjustment. Briscoe restarted first, but track conditions were quickly changing as the sun set, which made the Cooper Standard Ford F-150 extremely tight throughout the second stage. Taking the green and white checkered flag from the sixth position, Briscoe stated that the rear end of his truck was “on edge.” The Brad Keselowski Racing team provided four tires, fuel and both air-pressure and wedge adjustments, and Briscoe returned to the track in the fifth position for the start of the final stage.
Briscoe found that his F-150 was still really tight center off, and a 55-lap green-flag run forced Briscoe to pit under green on lap 123. With one final opportunity to adjust, Hillman called for four tires, fuel and additional wedge and air-pressure adjustments. When the final yellow flag of the night finally waved on lap 133, Briscoe was scored in the seventh position, but he lined up fifth when the field went green with just a handful of laps remaining. Briscoe found himself three and four-wide following the restart, fighting hard and tangling with non-playoff drivers for several laps before emerging third. Unfortunately, despite having the fastest truck on the racetrack in the closing laps, Briscoe ran out of time before he could chase down the leaders, ultimately crossing the finish line in the third position. 
Austin Cindric: We ended up fourth and I can’t complain about that. Everyone at Brad Keselowski Racing gave me an LTI Printing Ford F-150 that was capable of winning the race. Just about everything that could have happened to prevent us from having a good finish happened, from getting raced a bit rough at the beginning of the race, to that incident with [Johnny] Sauter on that restart. It seemed to me like he missed a shift. That was a bummer because it took out a lot of good trucks, plus we had a lot of damage and it threw us off on our strategy. But we were still able to score a top five, so we have to be proud of that. Plus, we scored points in both stages. I’ve got to thank LTi Printing for their support. We have one more race with those guys and hopefully we can make it to the Round of 6.”
Chase Briscoe: Tonight was really disappointing, because I felt like we had a race-winning truck and we finished third. We were really good at the start of the race in the daylight when the track was really slick. As the sun went down, we didn’t make the right adjustments and it put us in a box and cost us a lot of track position. After we made our green-flag pit stop toward the end, I felt like our Cooper Standard Ford F-150 was the fastest truck on the racetrack by quite a bit. Even though there are eight guys racing in the Playoffs, there are still a lot of guys out there racing for wins. We had to race them really hard and just lost too much ground to the leaders to be able to make it back to the front. It would have been a really big deal to be going into Talladega with a win, and a spot in the Round of 6, because there’s just so much that’s out of your control in a plate race. We just have to do everything we can to stay out of the Big One. The guys who do that are essentially the ones who are going to get to the next round.”
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