Austin Cindric Snaps 85-race Winless Streak


Published on June 3 2024 5:36 am
Last Updated on June 3 2024 5:37 am

MADISON, Ill. – Sometimes it takes a little luck to go along with all that horsepower and talent to win in the ultra-competitive NASCAR Cup Series.

Team Penske’ Austin Cindric capitalized on teammate Ryan Blaney running out of fuel heading to the white flag in Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 to snap an 85-race winless streak before a near-sold out crowd at Wide World Technology Raceway.

The victory was Cindric’s first since winning the 2022 season-opening Daytona 500 when he was named the Cup Series Rookie of the Year that year.

“I’m heartbroken for the 12 team (Blaney),” said Cindric, who only had one top-10 finish (fourth at Atlanta in February) through the first 14 races. “I don’t know what happened to them at the end of the race, but they deserved to win this race. Ryan’s been a hell of a leader on this team. This weekend was a great weekend for everybody involved. That 2 car is in the fight, an eventual 1-2 there. Heartbroken for those guys.

“This is huge for me. This is huge for this team. I’m so glad I was able to get a win with Brian (Wilson) as my crew chief in the Cup Series. You never know when it’s going to happen again, just drive my butt off and hope for the best.”

Blaney (No. 12 Ford) was trying to end a winless streak of his own – 15 races – and it appeared that he was in line to do so as he held a lead over Cindric (No. 2 Ford) as he was approaching the white flag signifying the final lap. But suddenly Blaney began to slow with no fuel remaining, unable to eke out just over a lap on the 1.25-mile short oval, and Cindric pounced.

“Never thought in my mind we were short,” said Blaney, who finished 24th. “It’s one of those things. One lap short. That just stinks. Really happy with our showing today. I don’t know what I got to do to get some luck on our side. I thought we had a great shot to win today. It ended up bad.”

Cindric, who started second and led a career-best 53 laps, was in the right place at the right time to cash in on his teammate’s misfortune and give Team Penske its second win in the three Cup Series races at the venue. Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota) of Joe Gibbs Racing finished second – 3.844 seconds back – and Brad Keselowski (No. 6 Ford) of RFK Racing took third. Rounding out the top five were 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick (No. 45 Toyota) and Team Penske’s Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), the winner of the inaugural 2022 Cup Series race here.

Throughout the majority of the 240-lap race, it appeared that Joe Gibbs Racing would find its way to Victory Lane as Christopher Bell (No. 20 Toyota) was dominant. Bell won the first two stages, led five times for a race-high 80 laps and was in a side-by-side battle with Blaney for the lead in the final 20 laps. Bell grabbed the lead from Blaney on Lap 221, but lost it on the ensuing lap. It was after that that Bell began to fade dramatically, eventually victimized by a mechanical issue that led to a seventh-place finish.

“It's everything. It’s absolutely everything,” Cindric said. “Great to win in front of an amazing crowd. This race track does an amazing job putting on events. Just proud to be able to do it. Proud to bring it home for these guys. They deserve it.”