Cindric suffered a frustrating Bristol night race when his Team Penske Ford Mustang was blown off by two front right tires, dropping him several laps from the leaders.
But when playoff rival Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s Kyle Busch’s engine blew in the final lap, it effectively saved his hopes of advancing to the Round of 12. Having been below the cutline most of the night, Cindric got the additional seats. he needs to be late to ensure he stays in title contention.
Cindric, who is in his rookie season as a full-time driver of the #2 car, believes that experience will make him stronger in the coming races, as he tries to lift himself from the bottom of the playoffs pile.
“I think it’s more of a motivator to anyone who has any doubts like within the team like, ‘Oh, man, we’re done’,” Cindric said. “You have to have thoughts in that situation. You have a right-front down and you go four laps down and you’re trapped.
“You’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh. Finished. We can’t do it.’ To anyone who would have that mentality in the race, I can put those thoughts into the car as well. I did not do it. I had to drive my heart out for the next 350 laps or whatever it was after we got all those laps down, but I think within the team it pretty much clears the mindset that we can do it.
“We have proven that you cannot give up in these situations. You never know what’s going to happen, so I think going through that experience definitely helps but, obviously, the team faced a good situation and we put ourselves in a position to advance to the next round.
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, M&M’s Toyota Camry, Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Bass Pro Shops /TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet Camaro, Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Freightliner Ford Mustang, Harrison Burton, Wood Brothers Racing, Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford Mustang
Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images
Following the points reset, Cindric is now at 3006 and needs to move up four spots to advance to the next Round of 8 in the next three events – starting at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. He is 34 points behind leader Chase Elliott, and seven short of the cutline – with teammate Ryan Blaney currently holding the final spot to progress.
“I think it’s definitely possible for us to claw our way to the Round of 8,” he said. “But I think, whoever is in the Round of 8, I think you have to win a race.
“I think, especially someone in my position in points, I have to win and I think I have to be competitive enough to race for wins to expect to be in Championship 4.
“That kind of goes without saying, but I think anyone who thinks they’re going to make the Championship 4 needs to win races in the Round of 8.”