Cindric Extends String of Different Road America Winners

(ELKHART LAKE, WI - AUG 8, 2020 - RIS) Austin Cindric showed the field his heels several times during the Henry 180 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the historic four-mile Road America road course, overcoming rain, lightning and challenges from other road course experts. The young Mustang pilot beat AJ Allmendinger to the checkered flag by 1.318 second after a restart with two laps left in the race. Chase Briscoe followed in third, with Kaz Grala fourth and sports car ace Andy Lally fifth. "This car was really fast on short runs," said Cindric after the race. "Those guys brought a great package and I tried to mind my Ps and Qs and put together two of my best laps to come home with the win.
"I am over the moon about it. This is the first place I ran an Xfinity race and I feel like every time I have come here we have had a shot to win. It feels great to do it and do it in front of fans and a home crowd from Menards."

Cindric overcame a debris problem that started about the middle of the race and persisted throughout the event: "Something came in my visor or something. It has been stuck under my eyelid from like halfway through the race. I have had tears running down my face the entire race and I can't get it out. I was taking my gloves off and whatever. When you have the adrenaline it isn't a big deal apparently because right now it is driving me crazy."

Lightning in the area resulted in the race being red flagged for over an hour and a half after only eleven laps, before restarting under rainy skies on Goodyear Eagle rain tires, before ending under bright sunshine.

The Henry 180.started with Austin Cindric making a power move around the outside of Turn One to take the lead from pole sitting Michael Annett. Bayley Currey parked his car just off the racing surface entering the last turn on the first lap, causing a caution early, with the Scott Heckert and Tommy Joe Martins car woes adding to the reason for the yellow. Riley Herbst took advantage of the caution to dive into the pits for new tires, replacing the four flat-spotted shoes created in a first lap lockup.

Cindric powered around the outside again at the restart with Justin Haley and Harrison Burton next.

Daniel Hemric reported that his car 'blew up' as he pulled off at the end of Pit Road, bringing out the second caution of the race, halfway through the first stage. During the caution, lightning strikes in the area brought the race to a halt for safety.

The lightning left, to be replaced by liquid Wisconsin sunshine, AKA rain, but the possibility of wet weather on a road course has a supply of rain tires present and the teams are allowed to change to and from the 'wets' but before the cars could even make a sighting lap behind the pace car, more lightning shut things down again.

Another delay and the rain stopped, the skies still cloud covered and the cars were sent back on the track in formation laps with five laps remaining in the stage. The entire pack drove down pit road for EITHER tires of fuel, but not both, under the special pit rules for the weekend. Following the stops, the field got rearranged in running order before the pause, again under special rules for the weekend.

At the green flag, Justin Haley moved around Cindric for the lead, but Vinnie Miller pulled off the track at Turn Twelve (Canada Corner) in a cloud of engine smoke, immediately bringing out another caution with Cindric second. Several teams elected to pit for fuel or rain tires as the rain seemed getting heavier as the stage ended.
The stage's final lap started under a green flag with Haley keeping the lead, flanked by Cindric, who lost second place to Ross Chastain briefly, then took second place back before the end of the stage. Sports car ace driver Andy Lally moved up to fifth place at the end of the stage from his 23rd place starting position.

With the restart, Alex Labbe took advantage of the slick conditions to move into the lead after Josh Bilicki and Noah Gragson dueled for the lead. AJ Allmendinger move around as the track started to dry under clearing skies. After numerous green flag stops for dry tires, Jesse Little fell off the track into a gravel trap, bringing out another full course caution with three laps left in the stage. Jeremy Clements left pit road before the required minimum under the special rules, incurring a penalty and having to restart at the end of the pack. Allmendinger headed the field at the end of the stage while a tow truck hauled Little out of the gravel pit Chastain, Haley, Bilicki and Annett filled out the top five at the end of the second stage.

At the restart, Kaz Grala and Allgaier ran side by side for the first four turns until Allgaier moved around in the fifth turn, then a lap later, Austin Cindric took the lead from Allgaier. AJ Allmendinger moved up from well back in the field to third, then Chase Briscoe moved around into third.

Scott Heckert's stall in the Turn Six gravel brought out another caution so the No. 78 Toyota could get pulled clear and pushed back to the pits. The leaders all pitted for tires, the time rule under today's alternative pit rules making the strategic calls. A big crash on the restart brought out a yellow that lasted until two laps to run, with Cindric heading Allmendinger and Briscoe. 

Cindric pushed hard to open up a lead of almost a second over Allmendinger, with Briscoe, Grala and Pardus strung out behind them. Cindric went on to become the eleventh different Xfinity race winner in eleven series races at Road America. The win is Cindric's fourth win of the season.

Ford post-race winner quotes: AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang -- CAN YOU TALK US THROUGH THE FINAL LAPS? "Yeah, with the cars that didn't pit we definitely knew whoever had us was going to have to navigate that traffic the quickest. We were able to get around and once AJ got clear I knew I was running qualifying laps. This car was really fast on short runs. Those guys brought a great package and I tried to mind my p's and q's and put together two of my best laps to come home with the win. I am over the moon about it. This is the first place I ran an Xfinity race and I feel like every time I have come here we have had a shot to win. It feels great to do it and do it in front of fans and a home crowd from Menards."

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WIN HERE AT ROAD AMERICA? "I think this is a special race track to any racer. You hear guys like Mario Andretti talk about it being the most complete race track in the world. The fans that come out to this place, whether there is a pandemic or not, it is such a great atmosphere and great family atmosphere. It makes you want to do it even more as a driver. It challenges you in every type of way, especially when there is weather. It also feels awesome to win at all three of the natural born road courses on the Xfinity Series schedule with Watkins Glen, Ohio and Road America. Those three are special to me in different ways. I am so proud that I get to drive these race cars."

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE LAST TWO LAPS? HOW CONCERNED WERE YOU ABOUT ALLMENDINGER? "I knew I was in control if I made it past turn five. We struggled with braking stability there last year all weekend today and with low fuel, that will make that a lot worse. With the alternative pitting it definitely made it hard for us because we couldn't add fuel to the car to add stability in the rear of the car when we put new tires on. It is a lightweight car but at the same time the braking stability was a big thing for me to lose. I was moving my brake bias about five times a lap. The end of that long run as well as the last two laps. I am sorry if I am blinking a lot but I got something in my eye halfway through the race and it hurts so bad. I have been blinking like the entire last hour."

WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR EYE? "Something came in my visor or something. It has been stuck under my eyelid from like halfway through the race. I have had tears running down my face the entire race and I can't get it out. I was taking my gloves off and whatever. When you have the adrenaline it isn't a big deal apparently because right now it is driving me crazy."

WHAT KIND OF SUMMER HAS THIS BEEN FOR YOU WITH FOUR WINS IN FIVE RACES? "It has been incredibly gratifying. When I have a team behind me like I do this year and those guys are so loyal to me and do such a great job with the tools that they have. When it comes to me, it is my job to do the best with the tools I have. I feel like from the start of this year I have been getting the most out of the cars I have been driving and it is gratifying to see the results. I look for that to continue. It is a really fun month of race tracks with the Daytona Road Course and Dover, one of my favorite tracks and a double header there. A doubleheader at Richmond and Darlington I get another shot to figure that place out. And then Bristol. We have a lot of race tracks that I am really looking forward to closing out the regular season."

DID IT MATTER TO YOU IF IT WAS A TWO-LAP OR FOUR-LAP SHOOTOUT? "I definitely think I was going to be a little better the longer we ran. I felt like I was able to save my tires enough and was going to be able to control the pace of the race there after we got a couple laps. I felt like my braking stability was good enough to be able to do that. With the two laps, it was about clearing those lap cars as quickly as possible. You can get a dive-bomb pretty quickly at this race track. Having that five or six car length buffer was really important after the first few corners."

WATKINS GLEN IS NOT ON THE SCHEDULE NOW AND IS A TRACK THAT MEANS A LOT TO YOU. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON NOT RACING THERE THIS YEAR? "We have added some races to the schedule and you would think I would be really excited about going to the Daytona road course but we have also taken two tracks that I won at last year off the schedule and I feel like we would be really good there if we started with no practice. I really wish we were still going back there. Those are great race tracks and have a great history with our race car and race team. I miss that we will miss out on those events but it definitely adds some unique venues to go to from here."

IT FEELS LIKE YOU AND AJ ALLMENDINGER KEEP RACING FOR WINS ON ROAD COURSES. THOSE LAST TWO LAPS, DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD A SENSE OF WHAT HE WAS GOING TO TRY IF HE GOT THERE? "Yeah, a big lunge. I definitely knew he was going to try to lunge the first opportunity that he got. I felt like we were really good in the back section of the race track and he was good in some of the slower corners. For me, those were weak points last year, the higher speed corners. I think that is where Christopher Bell was able to maintain a lead and gap himself. We were able to do that same thing today adopting that to our race car. I am happy we were able to do that. Once I got through turn five I knew that I was in control. I knew that once I made it through those areas that we were going to be set to go."

WE HAD A LONG RED FLAG AND TONS OF CAUTIONS. AS A COMPETITOR IN THE RACE, HOW HARD IS IT HAVING TO GO THROUGH ALL THAT? "Honestly, it wasn't as troubling as you would think. We got like a 10-lap practice if you think of it that way. I feel like if that stage would have run green at the beginning of the race we would have been able to figure out where our car was on the long run and I feel like that has been our advantage early in these races. To understand where our race car is very quickly and try to get a gap. We weren't able to do that today. I think it was a great practice session for everybody else to kind of get the jitters out, especially the guys that have never been here before to understand the race track. I said it in my post-race interview, we definitely over pressured our tires. I was probably the fastest car on the track for the first four or five laps and then all of a sudden I was junk. No grip, sliding on top of the track, I could smell the tires. I was spinning my tires at the top of fourth gear. It was terrible. So, that is what prompted me to pit and put us on the correct strategy with having tires there at the end and having a little bit of track position. It worked out for the best. I had a lot of fun racing Justin. That was cool. I think we raced side-by-side for three laps straight which is 12 miles here. Hopefully we gave everyone at home something good to watch. I don't know with the Cup race at Michigan if people were able to watch it but it was a lot of fun."

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT TO EXPECT NEXT WEEK AT DAYTONA? "Honestly, I feel like Daytona with the exception of the new chicane that everyone else will have to learn as well as myself, it is a pretty straightforward race track. I expect the field to be tight like Indy. I wouldn't rate Indy as the most difficult race track, the IndyGP, but I think that is why we saw some incredibly tight racing at that race track and I think you will see more of the same or even more at the Daytona road course. Given those straightaways it will be hard to get away from people in the draft. It is only like six or seven turns, not to downplay the track but I feel like guys will take to it and understand it quickly and it will put on a great show."

Unofficial Results, Henry 180, Road America, 4.048 mile road course

Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms, Laps, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 2, Austin Cindric, No. 22 Menards/Richmond Ford, 45, 2, , 3, 19, 5, 49, Running
2) 33, AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Ellsworth Advisors Chevrolet, 45, , 1, 1, 9, 1, 45, Running
3) 7, Chase Briscoe, No. 98 Henry Repeating Arms Ford, 45, 3, , , , , 42, Running
4) 6, Kaz Grala, No. 21 Chevrolet, 45, , 6, 1, 2, , 38, Running
5) 23, Andy Lally, No. 02 New Wave Cleaning Solutions Chevrolet, 45, 5, 5, , , , 44, Running
6) 9, Noah Gragson, No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber Camo Chevrolet, 45, , , 1, 1, , 31, Running
7) 11, Ross Chastain, No. 10 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet, 45, 4, 2, , , , 46, Running
8) 37, Preston Pardus, No. 36 Chinchor Electric/Danus Chevrolet, 45, , , 2, 5, , 29, Running
9) 16, Ryan Sieg, No. 39 Chevrolet, 45, , , , , , 28, Running
10) 1, Michael Annett, No. 1 Allstate Parts & Service Group Chevrolet, 45, 7, 9, , , , 33, Running
11) 4, Justin Haley, No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, 45, 1, 3, 1, 3, 1, 44, Running
12) 13, Brandon Brown, No. 68 BMS Chevrolet, 45, , 7, , , , 29, Running
13) 22, Josh Williams, No. 92 Alloy Employer Services/ProAct Chevrolet, 45, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 8, Brandon Jones, No. 19 Toyota Service Center Toyota, 45, , , , , , 23, Running
15) 21, Alex Labbe, No. 90 Frameco/Prolon/rousseau Chevrolet, 45, , , 1, 1, , 22, Running
16) 3, Harrison Burton #, No. 20 DEX Imaging Toyota, 45, , , , , , 21, Running
17) 30, Josh Bilicki, No. 99 Ariens Toyota, 45, 8, 4, 2, 4, , 30, Running
18) 36, Tommy Joe Martins, No. 44 Skyview Partners Chevrolet, 45, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 19, Jade Buford, No. 6 Big Machine Hand Sanitizer Chevrolet, 45, 9, 8, , , , 23, Running
20) 24, Rc Enerson, No. 07 Lucas Oil School of Racing Chevrolet, 45, 10, , , , , 18, Running
21) 32, Kyle Weatherman, No. 47 Stand For The Flag Chevrolet, 45, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 15, Stephen Leicht, No. 61 JANIKING Toyota, 45, , , , , , 15, Running
23) 5, Riley Herbst #, No. 18 Monster Energy Toyota, 45, , , , , , 14, Running
24) 20, Mike Wallace, No. 0 Unkers Therapeutic/Market Scan Chevrolet, 45, , , , , , 13, Running
25) 26, Joe Graf Jr #, No. 08 Bucked Up Energy Chevrolet, 45, , , , , , 12, Running
26) 35, Jesse Iwuji(i), No. 13 G2 Xchange Toyota, 45, , , , , , 0, Running
27) 28, Kody Vanderwal #, No. 52 ADVANCED DAIRY SERVICES Chevrolet, 43, , , , , , 10, Engine
28) 14, Jesse Little #, No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet, 43, , , , , , 9, Running
29) 18, Jeremy Clements, No. 51 Chevrolet, 42, , , , , , 8, Accident
30) 12, Justin Allgaier, No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet, 41, 6, , 1, 1, , 12, Accident
31) 17, Jeffrey Earnhardt, No. 15 Chevrolet, 41, , , , , , 6, Accident
32) 29, Myatt Snider #, No. 93 ShoreLunch Chevrolet, 41, , , , , , 5, Accident
33) 27, Scott Heckert, No. 78 Koolbox Ice/JW Transport Toyota, 41, , 10, , , , 5, Running
34) 34, Vinnie Miller, No. 5 Thompson Electric/JF Electric Chevrolet, 10, , , , , , 3, Engine
35) 10, Daniel Hemric, No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet, 7, , , , , , 2, Engine
36) 31, Chad Finchum, No. 66 OCR GAZ BAR Toyota, 5, , , , , , 1, Transmission
37) 25, Bayley Currey(i), No. 74 Chevrolet, 0, , , , , , 0, Engine
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Race Length: 45 laps 182.16 miles

Time: 2 Hrs, 56 Mins, 37 Secs.
Average Speed: 61.83 MPH
Margin of Victory: 1.318 Seconds

Stage 1 Top 10: 11, 22, 98, 10, 02, 7, 1, 99, 6, 07

Stage 2 Top 10: 16, 10, 11, 99, 02, 21, 68, 6, 1, 78

Race Comments: Austin Cindric won the Henry 180 at Road America, his sixth victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Prior to the start the following vehicle(s) dropped to the rear of the field under penalty for the reasons indicated: No. 93 (unapproved adjustments), No. 5 (driver change). 

Caution Flags: 7 for 15 laps;
Laps: 3-4 (No. 74 Stopped On Track [None]);
9-11 (Possible Fluid On Track From No. 8 [Red: 01:33:16] [68]);
13-13 (No. 5 Stopped on Track [78]);
16-17 (Stage 1 Conclusion [None]);
28-32 (No. 4 Stopped On Track / Stage 2 Conclusion [None]);
41-41 (No. 78 Stopped On Track [13]);
43-43 (No. 7, 15, 21, 51, 93 Incident Turn 3 [78]).

Lead Changes: 13 among 9 drivers;
M. Annett 0;
A. Cindric 1-11;
J. Haley 12-14;
J. Bilicki 15-17;
P. Pardus 18;
J. Bilicki 19;
N. Gragson 20;
A. Labbe 21;
A. Allmendinger 22-30;
K. Grala 31-32;
J. Allgaier 33;
A. Cindric 34-39;
P. Pardus 40-43;
A. Cindric 44-45.

Mobil 1 Driver of the Race: AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 
Sunoco Rookie of the Race: Harrison Burton, No. 20 

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2020, Issue 8, Posted 6:19 PM, 08.08.2020