ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Austin Cindric will have prime starting position for his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut Sunday afternoon at Road America, after Coors Light Pole Qualifying was cancelled due to dynamic weather conditions that made both wet and dry tires ineffective.
No sooner had XFINITY Series director Wayne Auton called the qualifying session wet, than the sun began to shine around the 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit, meaning that drivers were stuck on rain tires with a quickly-drying race track to work with.
As time elapsed and NASCAR officials continued to delay the session, light sprinkles peppered the ‘Kink’ on the back of the course and made the track too wet for slicks, while the frontstretch and Turn 1 sections of the track were very dry and would wear the rain tires very quickly as a result.
In the end, it was simply a no-win situation for the drivers, and the session was scrapped at 11:30 local time due to the pending start of the 100-mile ARCA Racing Series event that serves as an undercard to the XFINITY program on Sunday afternoon.
Thanks to the current owner point standings, Cindric will lead the field to green in the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang for Team Penske, as the 18-year-old seeks to become the first driver since Kurt Busch at Watkins Glen in 2006 to win his series debut.
However, due to the qualifying cancellation, Cindric will not be credited with an official pole in the record book.
Cindric is not the first driver to start first in the No. 22 car for his series debut, as Parker Kligerman scored the pole at Kansas Speedway in 2009 with a lap of 172.778 mph.
Alongside Cindric will be the driver who was fastest in final practice Saturday evening, with James Davison rolling off second in the No. 20 Hollinger Motor Sports/’Cole Trickle Tribute’ Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
The Australian is making his third series start this weekend and subbed for the injured Sebastien Bourdais at the Indianapolis 500 in May.
Row two will see points leader Elliott Sadler grid up alongside Christopher Bell, who is driving the JGR No. 18 Toyota and making his first-career XFINITY road course start this weekend.
Opening practice leader Justin Marks completed the top five, ahead of William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Ben Kennedy, Scott Lagasse Jr. and Brennan Poole.
2014 Road America winner Brendad Gaughan rolls off 18th, while Trans-Am race winner Ernie Francis Jr. will make his series debut from the 38th starting spot.
The Johnsonville 180 kicks off at 3 p.m. ET, live on NBC, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
The full starting grid can be viewed on the next page…