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Questions Answered After Austin Cindric Shocks Everyone at Gateway

#2: Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Freightliner Ford Mustang celebrates his win

Who… should you be talking about after the race?

If Austin Cindric wasn’t on your list before the race, he is now. Cindric won the Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on Sunday, leading three times for 53 laps, including the final two.

The win came as a bit of a surprise even to Cindric. His teammate Ryan Blaney had the lead but had been battling Christopher Bell door-to-door for most of the final 25 laps of the race. That was until Bell had a bad shift which caused him engine issues.

Blaney maintained a solid lead over Cindric as the field came to the white flag … and then ran out of fuel.

Cindric, who had run a very good race, suddenly found himself in the lead with a lap to go, and he took the win over Denny Hamlin for his second career victory.

Cindric’s win was a bit of a surprise, but a good finish should not have been. He had top fives in both opening stages and his 53 laps led were a career-best. 

And don’t forget Carson Hocevar. The rookie had his best Cup finish to date, finishing eighth. Hocevar also scored a couple of stage points, finishing the second segment in eighth. His finish is his second top 10 of 2024 and the third for Spire Motorsports, matching the team’s 2023 mark after just 15 races.

What… is the big question leaving this race in the rearview?

Talk all week has been about Kyle Larson and whether NASCAR would issue the 2021 champion a playoff waiver for missing the Coca-Cola 600 after the Indianapolis 500, in which Larson also competed, was delayed by weather. Larson arrived in Charlotte with plenty of laps left to get into his No. 5 car and not need the waiver, but weather in Charlotte ended that race before Larson could turn a lap.

Still, NASCAR has rarely denied a waiver, so it was expected that Larson would get his and that would be that, but NASCAR still has not issued a decision.

So, what is NASCAR waiting for?

Well, the longer it waits to make a decision, the more people will talk about it. It certainly gets NASCAR plenty of attention in the short term. People are talking about it after all.

But delaying the decision is also giving fans an opportunity to look closer at the inconsistency. The sanctioning body could also be using…

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