ARCA: Cindric Scores First-Career Win In Kentucky; Economy Run Pays Off

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Austin Cindric celebrates in victory lane following his ARCA Racing Series win in Friday night's Crosley Brands 150 at Kentucky Speedway. (ARCA photo)

Austin Cindric celebrates in victory lane following his ARCA Racing Series win in Friday night’s Crosley Brands 150 at Kentucky Speedway. (ARCA photo)

SPARTA, Ky. – After several close calls in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, 18-year-old Austin Cindric finally sealed the deal and captured his first-career victory on Friday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Cindric passed John Wes Townley for the lead at lap 50 of the Crosley Brands 150 and never gave it up again, ultimately holding off Dalton Sargeant on a green-white-checkered finish to capture the checkered flag.

The win was Cindric’s third major stock car victory of the season, following NASCAR K&N Pro Series wins at VIRginia International Raceway (April) and Watkins Glen International (August).

“This was an awesome night,” said Cindric, who becomes the eighth first-time ARCA winner this year. “All four of my (prior) ARCA races leading up to this one, we led laps and were in contention to win, but just came up a little short in each of them. Tonight, these guys hustled really hard and it paid off in a huge way.”

“I have to thank Brian (Wilson) because this is his first win as a crew chief. He’s worked so hard, along with all the rest of these guys who have been on the (No.) 99 car this year and last year. Man, it feels good. It’s a huge relief to finally have one of these (wins).”

The teenager’s previous best series finish before Friday night’s breakthrough was a runner-up effort at Pocono Raceway in July, when reigning champion Grant Enfinger held him off on a fuel-mileage economy run to the checkered flag.

This time, however, it was Cindric who made the economy run pay off – going 76 laps on his final tank of Sunoco race fuel.

“You might be surprised, but I really wasn’t nervous about fuel,” he admitted. “I think we were all good and Brian’s call was the right (decision). Obviously it worked out and we’re standing here tonight – a great day all around.”

Outside polesitter Shane Lee led the first 26 laps of the race, but was eliminated from contention in the race’s second caution flag after contact with Sarah Cornett-Ching that damaged the front bodywork of his No. 32 Win-Tron Racing Toyota.

That opened the door for Cindric to pounce, as he claimed the top spot from Matt Tifft on the next restart on lap 34 and took command out front for the first time.

Though John Wes Townley — who started last due to a pre-race transmission change — managed to work forward and lead laps 44-49, Cindric re-passed Townley at the halfway point and never trailed again.

Ultimately, the race was sent into overtime and pushed two laps past its scheduled distance after a three-car crash drew the caution flag coming to five laps to go, collecting Lee and Kyle Weatherman as they raced for the fourth position.

The incident set up a final restart with Sargeant and Matt Tifft, who both took fresh tires at lap 70, giving chase to Cindric over the race-deciding two lap sprint in the Bluegrass State.

Though Sargeant came close to giving a challenge to the Cunningham Motorsports car, he was forced to settle for second in the end, missing out on his first superspeedway victory by .528 of a second.

“Overall, this was another really good night for our Venturini Motorsports team,” the Florida teenager said. “For my first time at Kentucky, I had a blast. The repave was awesome. The track had a lot of grip and it was super fast.”

“It was difficult to pass. You saw most of the passing done on the restarts tonight, but overall … like I said, a great run for us. We had some troubles at the start … where we kind of got caught up in some stuff, but we had a great comeback to rally forward into the top three by the end of the night.”

Tifft was third in his first ARCA start for Ranier Racing with MDM, making just his second appearance back in a national stock car event since undergoing brain surgery for a benign tumor in July.

Tom Hessert finished fourth and prevented points leader Chase Briscoe from officially wrapping up the ARCA title, after Briscoe was involved in a crash with 24 laps to go that took him out of the race.

Attempting to battle double-wide with Sargeant for second, Briscoe was tipped into the outside wall as Townley took a look to the high side on Briscoe entering turn three, collecting rookies Zane Smith and Bret Holmes in the process as Briscoe’s No. 77 Big Tine Ford sustained massive damage.

Though he finished out of the action Friday night, all Briscoe will have to do is take a lap of practice at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 14 to collect his quarterly 250 bonus points and officially lock up the crown.

“Obviously, I’m fortunate to be okay and that we have all the safety innovations in these cars that we do,” the Mitchell, Indiana native said. “I’m not really sure what happened. We were side-drafting (Sargeant) there … and the next thing I knew, I was turned towards the fence.”

“I’m not sure if I came up or somebody came down, but I just hate it for my guys after this week that they’ve had. The whole front clip was off this car (on Tuesday) and now we’re going to have to fix more than just that before we go to Kansas. As much as I hate it, I’m still proud of the team. We brought a good race car to the track and we were fast, so we’ll just head on to Kansas and try to do what we’ve been doing all season by chasing one more win this year.”

The ARCA Racing Series concludes their 2016 season with its 20th and final race of the year, the Kansas ARCA 150, in three weeks’ time.

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