DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Austin Cindric’s bid for a second straight win to start the 2021 season came up just short as he ended up second to winner Ty Gibbs on the Daytona Road Course in what proved to be a double-overtime finish.
Cindric had an eventful night as he went from the front to the back and back to the front. He ended up winning Stage 1, but it came at a cost. While tracking leader AJ Allmendinger through the tri-oval, Cindric made contact with Allmendinger’s bumper, which caused damage to both cars. It also ended Stewart-Haas driver Riley Herbst’s night as he went through the grass to avoid the incident and tore up his No. 98 Monster Energy Mustang.
The right-front bumper area had to be sawed off of Cindric’s Ford, which left the tire exposed. It didn’t seem to hurt him that much as he started Stage 2 in 31st place and moved all the way back to sixth by the time it was over. Cindric started Stage 3 in third after pit stops and got back to the lead on lap 36. Cindric dueled with Daniel Hemric and then Gibbs for multiple laps, but was able to create a gap with nine laps to go. Cindric’s lead, however, disappeared when the caution came out with three laps to go for tire debris.
Cindric and many of his fellow leaders pitted, but nine cars stayed out which created a wild restart in the first overtime. Ford’s Ryan Sieg had the lead after not pitting, but went off the course going through turn one while Cindric moved from 11th to fifth by the time caution came out.
Cindric, who led twice as many laps as anyone else with 29, was able to go from fifth to second by the time the cars reached the backstretch of the oval on the second overtime restart, but by that time Gibbs was too far in front and he was never able to mount a serious challenge.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series continues with the final leg of the season’s opening Florida stint on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. on FS1 and MRN.
FORD FINISHING RESULTS:
2nd -- Austin Cindric
25th -- Cody Ware
27th -- Ryan Sieg
39th -- Riley Herbst
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 PPG Ford Mustang
“Obviously, I don’t want to be racing to a stage probably that aggressive. I’d love to see a replay. Just hopefully we can avoid something like that because AJ and I were gonna be fighting for a win later today, so I hate to be able to do that much damage to our PPG Ford Mustang that early. It just seemed like he was trying to block, whether if he didn’t know I was there or not. It sucks. It’s over with, but we salvaged a great day out of it. Congratulations to Ty. That’s obviously really cool. Congrats to him and his family. P2, I’ll take it.”
POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
THOUGHTS ON YOUR START TO THE SEASON WITH A WIN AND A RUNNER-UP?
“Yeah, it’s obviously a great start to the season big picture-wise. I wish we would have been able to do a little bit more tonight. If that caution hadn’t come out, but it’s the what-ifs of racing. Those restarts were crazy. I hope everyone else enjoyed it because that was stressful and that was challenging, but, overall, it’s a great way to start the year. I wish we would have been able to get our PPG Ford Mustang in victory lane, but it was not in the cards on those restarts.”
IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOUR TEAM TO COME OUT OF THE BOX STRONG AND SEND A MESSAGE TO THE FIELD THAT YOU GUYS ARE THE FAVORITES AND YOU’RE GOING TO PERFORM LIKE THAT?
“Yeah, the more you can be offensive than defensive the better. The last couple weeks we have in some ways maybe painted a target on us as being guys that are willing to race hard to win, so I’m excited that we’re bringing that speed early on in the year, but there’s nothing guaranteed, so you’ve got to keep it going. You’ve got to be able to keep bringing those race cars. We have a bunch of different types of tracks coming up on the schedule and I’m looking forward to seeing what we’ve got to start the season.”
DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE ANY LINGERING AFTER EFFECTS WITH AJ AFTER WHAT HAPPENED IN STAGE 1?
“I doubt it. I think he and I should talk about it to understand. Obviously, we had two really great cars capable of winning the race and definitely damaged mine and I never saw him the rest of the afternoon, so I’m sure it obviously affected his chances at winning the race. It’s frustrating, but I think we can both learn from it and try not to do that again. He’s a grown-up. He’s been around. I’m sure we can talk it out and figure out how to do better moving forward.”
HAVE YOU SEEN THE REPLAY YET?
“That was like three minutes ago, so, no, I have yet to see a TV replay. I’m fairly certain I know what happened and whether if it’s a difference of opinion or a miscommunication over the spotter radio, I mean, I could probably be equally frustrated or even more frustrated with AJ, so I don’t think that’s the right approach to take. Like I said earlier, I think we both just need to sit down and talk about it and understand that we both hurt our chances of winning today because of it and move forward and be better.”
HAD YOU EVER RACED TY GIBBS BEFORE AND WHAT DID HE DO TONIGHT TO IMPRESS YOU?
“Yeah, obviously Ty did a really great job tonight. He didn’t seem to put a wheel wrong at least when I was behind him. I haven’t raced him before, but he seemed to be able to handle a lot of situations well and I put him in some pretty tough spots trying to hang onto the lead and he did a great job with it. There were a lot of times I could have easily been shoved off the racetrack, so I felt like he raced me fair, but the way those restarts worked out I’m not sure I could have done much different. I’m shocked that he didn’t rip the splitter off of it going through the grass heading into turn one on the final restart, so it was cool to watch his interview. That’s cool for him and his family, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does the rest of the year in his races. It’s a cool way to start for him.”
HOW DID THE CHANGES TO THE BACKSTRETCH CHICANE WORK? DID IT IMPACT HOW YOU RACED AT ALL?
“I thought it was a good compromise. I’m glad that they didn’t put the turtles in the first two curbs because they’re pretty high-speed entries and can do a lot more damage than probably just grass, so I think they found the right compromise. I don’t see it working very well for a sports car, but it’s a good, quick fix for NASCARs.”
HOW MUCH DID THE DAMAGE TO THE RIGHT-FRONT AFFECT THE CAR AND WAS THAT A DETERMINING FACTOR AT THE END ONCE TY GOT CLEAN AIR?
“I don’t think it changed anything at the end of the race. By the time I got into second-place he was gone. All l had to hope for was him screwing up or a caution coming out. I felt like on equal terms I probably could have been able to make a pass, but it definitely affected my handling in some of the higher speed corners and I’d almost put money on it affecting my braking. My braking got significantly worse throughout the evening. I made a lot of mistakes on the brakes while in the lead. I’m not very proud of those, but just have to go back and understand it better -- see what our brake wears look like -- and obviously losing a ton of downforce and adding a lot of drag, so definitely didn’t help in a lot of facets. I wish we wouldn’t have had to overcome that, but my guys did a great job of clearancing all that and not letting me go a lap down. All in all, I’m not sure how avoidable any of tonight’s circumstances were. We still put ourselves in position to win the race at the end and it just wasn’t in the cards.”