Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Race: Sparks 300 at Talladega
Date: October 2, 2021
No. 22 Carquest Ford Mustang – Austin Cindric
Stage 1: 4th
Stage 2: 9th
Laps Completed: 107/107
Laps Led: 10
Driver Point Standings (ahead of second): 1st (+22)
- Austin Cindric and the No. 22 Carquest Ford Mustang clinched a spot in the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs with an eighth-place finish in the Sparks 300 Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. Cindric led 10 laps and claimed his 21 top-10 finish of the 2021 season. Cindric stretched his points lead to 22 markers over second place Justin Allgaire.
- The starting lineup was once again set by the NASCAR rulebook giving Cindric the second starting position. At the drop of the green flag, Cindric quickly captured the race lead, pacing the top-lane until he got shuffled out of position and fell to 12th on lap 11. Stage 1 ran caution free for all 25 laps. Cindric and spotter Coleman Presley fought back finishing fourth when the stage concluded. During the stage caution, crew chief Brian Wilson called for adjustments to the Carquest Mustang, taking rounds out of the left and right side, while changing two left-side tires. The race was red flagged for wall repair before the start of Stage 2.
- Cindric restarted fourth on lap 30 and continued to run inside the top-two, working with Ford teammate Riley Herbst to hold off the other multi-car team manufactures. A late-stage surge shuffled the Ford duo back, but Cindric would savage a ninth-place finish when the segment ended on lap 50. He reported the handling of the Carquest Mustang was still neutral. During the stage caution, the team changed right side tires.
- A quick stop by the Carquest pit crew allowed Cindric to restart fifth. He quickly recaptured the lead until green flag pit stops started on lap 67. The team stopped for fuel only on lap 70. A caution flag at lap 74 bunched the field up with Cindric restarting in the second position. The race was slowed again, with a second red flag with 25 laps to go for a multi-vehicle incident on the backstretch with Cindric scored 15th. Over the course of several cautions Cindric as able to make his way back inside the top-10 before the race was called for darkness six-laps from the finish with Cindric scored in eighth position.
Quote: "We've advanced onto the next round so that's it's kind of job accomplished for the day. I felt like there were an equal amount of good moves and moves I made today. I was just trying to be aggressive and gain track position. The track raced a little different today than it usually does, but Riley and I were able to work well through a lot of the day. A lot of that work together is paying off, so, overall, a solid day. I think it's probably one of the fastest speedway cars I've had to be honest, so thanks to Roush Yates and obviously the Penske guys and Carquest. This car has won Daytona, was second here in the spring race and advanced us into the next round of the playoffs."