BOWMANVILLE, Ontario — Quite simply, Austin Cindric was not to be denied Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
After starting from the pole and leading the first 31 laps of the 64-lap Chevrolet Silverado 250, Cindric and his Brad Keselowski Racing team dug themselves a hole after Cindric left his pit box with the fuel can, necessitating a stop-and-go penalty that appeared to take the 19-year-old out of contention for the win.
But knowing he had to win to lock himself into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs, Cindric stormed through the field in the final 20 laps, coming from 16th to ultimately nudge Kaz Grala out of the way in Turn 5 on the final lap.
As Grala went spinning, Cindric and his team saw visions of confetti as the plum-colored No. 19 Ford honoring team owner Brad Keselowski’s uncle Ron crossed underneath the checkered flag and claimed the victory.
Less than three weeks since announcing the closure of Brad Keselowski Racing at the end of the season, the team locked both of their drivers into the Truck Series playoffs at the famed 2.459-mile road course — Cindric by his victory and teammate Chase Briscoe on points.
“We have two trucks that are capable of racing for the championship here at BKR,” Cindric said. “That’s exactly what the boss and these guys deserve. I’m so thankful to be able to win today and give them a chance to race for a championship.”
Cindric restarted 16th when the green flag flew to kick off the final stage with 20 to go, but he didn’t stay there long, charging up seven spots in half a lap before Christopher Bell blew a motor on the backstretch, bringing out a caution.
That set Cindric up in ninth for the next restart with 15 laps remaining, and he blasted forward four more spots in less than a lap, narrowly avoiding a four-wide madhouse in Turn 5 as Parker Kligerman, Noah Gragson, John Hunter Nemechek and Johnny Sauter all came together racing for position.
He worked around Sauter to move into fourth just before the next caution flew with 13 to go, after Cody Coughlin stalled in the mud off Turn 6, but appeared to have run out of luck at the start of the race-ending nine lap dash after dropping back to fifth on the final restart.
Cindric stayed patient, though, and methodically picked off trucks one by one.
Despite the elation of a victory, Cindric was unapologetic about making the move he did to win the race.
“I have to acknowledge what happened with Kaz in turn five,” Cindric said. “Everyone has watched this race for many years now and everybody knows it’s going to come (down) to contact. I raced with Kaz growing up, he drove my Bando … that was the first car he ever drove and I know his family.”
“I know they are not going to be overly excited about this, but he already had a win and I didn’t feel too bad about having to do something to make it happen for this team.”
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