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SEP 17, 2021 | Ford Performance Staff

Cindric Finishes Second in Dramatic Final Lap at Bristol

Cindric Mustang on the track

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Austin Cindric and AJ Allmendinger came sliding across the finish line together in a dramatic overtime finish Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway with Allmendinger taking the checkered flag first and claiming not only the race but the regular season championship.

Cindric put himself in position to win his sixth race of the season and second straight regular season championship by taking the lead with 70 laps remaining and extending it down the stretch.  However, a caution with four laps to go brought the field back into contention and set the stage for an overtime restart with title contenders Cindric, Allmendinger and Justin Allgaier lined up 1-2-3.

The three drivers got physical at different times with each other over the final mile and even though Cindric got a good restart on the outside, he wasn’t able to pull away as Allmendinger and Allgaier both used the inside to their advantage.  All three drivers led at different points, but it was Allmendinger who was able to get out front on the final lap, forcing Cindric to make a desperate attempt off of turn four that resulted in contact and both cars sliding sideways across the stripe.

That serves as the backdrop to a seven-race playoff season that begins next week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in which Cindric opens as the top seed by virtue of having five wins to Allmendinger’s four.  Both drivers start the postseason with 2044 points.

Ford’s Riley Herbst did what he had to do, finishing third in the race and clinching a spot in the Round of 12.  He goes into the playoffs seeded 11th.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs begin next week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with 12 drivers vying for the championship.  The Alsco Uniforms 302 is set for Saturday, Sept. 25 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

FORD FINISHING RESULTS
2nd  -- Austin Cindric
3rd -- Riley Herbst
34th -- Ryan Sieg

AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang
YOU WILL MAKE HIGHLIGHTS AT BRISTOL FOR YEARS TO COME WITH THAT FINISH.
 
“Yeah.  Absolutely.  I’m sure everybody in the grandstands tonight will remember this one.  I certainly will.  That’s two years in a row in this race that I feel like we should have won.  That’s a lot of races in this neon yellow car that I feel like we should have won this year, so really disappointed for Menards, Richmond, Team Penske -- all the hard work these guys put in.  We put ourselves in position.  That’s all you can ask for and I guess that’s short track racing.”

HOW DO YOU RESET YOUR MINDSET FOR THE PLAYOFFS? 
“I know how much it means to everybody else to beat us.”

WHAT HAPPENED ON THE FINAL LAP? 
“What happened on the last lap?  The short summary is short track racing.  The long summary is a lot of contact.  Five-star bodies definitely made their money’s worth today.  I’m surprised we were able to not cut a tire down in that situation, but just a lot of hard racing, a lot of guys wanted to win the race.  I feel like, and I say with confidence, we were probably the ones that deserved to, but that’s not how these play out with these green-white-checkers and sometimes you’re vulnerable.”

DID YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THAT LAST MOVE OFF OF FOUR OR WAS THAT DESPERATION? 
“I would say that was the exact same thing AJ did on the bottom of turn four the lap prior, just gassing up out of desperation.  I would say it was a bit desperate, but monkey see, monkey do in that situation.  Like I said in my TV interview, I don’t want to tear up race cars and can’t say I’m the one that instigated any of that.  I had a shot to win.  I mean, I’d love to see the margin there of two cars crashing across the finish line, but really close two years in a row.”

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU NARROWLY MISSED SIEG TRYING TO GET TO PIT ROAD? 
“I thought that was really close.  The 10 car had a tire go down.  The 39 had a problem.  I was just waiting for my caution.  When we got to three to go I thought we were in a decent spot, but I’ve had a couple of these run green while I’ve been leading and I consider myself lucky every time it does and today it didn’t happen.”

DO THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT WITH AJ CHANGE NOW AFTER TONIGHT? 
“Yes and no.  I feel like at a track like this it’s probably more pliable, but it doesn’t surprise me.  That’s how AJ races.  That’s how he’s always raced.  He’s usually walked that fine line no matter what position he’s running on the racetrack.  I respect him for it -- not for tonight -- but I respect him for it in general.  He’s hungry.  I think that’s proof.  Not to sound arrogant, but how bad guys want to win, how bad guys want to beat us.  We obviously did the right adjustments tonight and got ahead and stayed ahead of the track and I’m really proud of that and some nights that’s all you can do.”

IT’S A BIG POINT SWING.  DO YOU FEEL THAT PLAYED INTO IT AT ALL? 
“Absolutely.  You can look at it from a different perspective that I would rather AJ win than anybody else because I’d rather have two cars have the most playoff points than to be equally distributed throughout the field because then that devalues mine, so from that perspective, I don’t mind him winning as long as I’m ahead.  That’s the caveat there.”

WILL YOU CHAT WITH HIM ABOUT THIS? 
“The funny thing is we fly on the same plane as Kaulig, so it’s kind of been funny the whole year.  They sit in the front of the plane.  They make us sit in the back of the plane, so I get to have some snarky comment every time I walk by AJ when we walk on the plane, so, if he doesn’t talk to me by then I’m sure I’ll hear something on Friday morning.”

YOU TOOK THE OUTSIDE AND ALLGAIER OPTED TO GO BEHIND YOU.  WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN YOU SAW THAT HAPPEN? 
“I actually liked it because I thought Allgaier was the better car and I thought that was gonna trap AJ on the bottom, but obviously contact there off of four really screwed my run.  I did have a point that I was clear, but the moment I pull down with a tight clear like that all AJ is gonna do release the brake and run into the back of me, so, like I said, two guys who both wanted to win the race really bad.”

DO YOU KNOW YOUR SNARKY COMMENT YET BEFORE GETTING ON THE PLANE?  
“I usually try to think of my rebuttal because he usually gets the first word and the last word, and I try to shut him up before he gets the last word.”

RILEY HERBST, No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang
THAT WAS A WILD FINISH.
 
“Yeah, that was fun.  A lot of people using their bumpers out here tonight and kind of what I expected just because it’s the regular season cutoff and playoff points are on the line.  It got aggressive, but it was cool.  We kept ourselves in position.  Richard Boswell and the 98 team gave us a really good strategy and a really good car.  Thank you to Monster Energy and Ford Performance.  Man, I’m so excited to go home next week and try to go race for a championship.”

HOW SPECIAL WILL IT BE TO START THE PLAYOFFS AT YOUR HOME TRACK? 
“It’s gonna be fun.  I’ve been looking forward to going home for a long time and I think we can win at home next week and, like I said, I’m excited.  We’re going to race for a championship.”

WHAT ABOUT THE FINAL RESTART?  
“Once the caution came and the overtime happened I knew it was gonna be kind of hectic.  It’s just a product of Bristol.  People got aggressive.  Everybody wants to win at this place.  This place is awesome.  It was ten tenths there the last few laps and all hell kind of broke loose, but we were able to come away third and we’ll take it headed to Las Vegas.”

THOUGHTS ON LAS VEGAS NEXT WEEK? 
“We’re going to back to my home, Las Vegas, to try to go win and move to the Round of 8.  We’re very capable of winning and we’re ready to go do it.”

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