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Austin Cindric Takes Advantage As Ryan Blaney’s Misfortune Continues

2024 Wwt Gateway Cup Ryan Blaney Congratulates Austin Cindric Sean Gardner Getty Images

MADISON, Ill. – Two hundred and ninety-nine miles into Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300, defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion Ryan Blaney was poised to pick up his first win of the 2024 season. 

By the time the field made its way around to take the checkered flag at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, heartbreak once again found its way to Blaney as he ran out of fuel on the final lap, allowing Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric to win for the first time since the 2022 Daytona 500. 

Cindric is now the only one of the three Team Penske drivers locked into the NASCAR Playoffs with a win, with Blaney and Logano needing a victory of their own to lock themselves into the postseason.

“I was just happy that we were in position there at the end when the 12 car ran out and to bring home the win, because this team deserves it,” Cindric said. “I can’t wait to get back to the shop. Everyone has been so supportive and believing in me through good days and bad days, and I can’t think of a better place to work.”

Cindric indeed was in a position to take advantage on Sunday. Minus Christopher Bell, he led the most laps on Sunday, pacing the field 53 times. And when Bell faded in the closing laps with apparent engine problems, limping home to finish seventh, Cindric’s opportunity met paydirt with Blaney’s fuel mishap. 

“I didn’t know we were close on fuel. I was kind of shocked if I’m being honest. It’s crazy to think the two best cars at the end of the race both had an issue and the third-place car wins the race,” Cindric said. “It’s not like I went out there and took the lead away. We were in position, and it was probably one of our best-executed races of the year and probably the best speed we have shown this year.”

From the standpoint of the No. 2 car of Cindric, there did not appear to be fuel concerns late. In fact, Sunday’s race winner had enough in the tank to perform a post-race victory burnout.

“Honestly at that point, we felt we like were in a good position,” said Brian Wilson, Cindric’s crew chief. “Obviously on that last stop, everyone is trying to be as quick as we can. We were in a position where we felt good about it.”

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