Austin Sendrich went through it all Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway to begin squeaking the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
On paper, Cindric finished 20th and seven laps off the lead. He advanced to the second round of qualifying by two points.
But the story of the tape is more comprehensive.
The adventure started on lap 85 when Cendrick had to dig under green flag conditions for a flat front tire. It was the first of two tire problems Cindric would have, though he said he would have had nearly a third had it not been “rescued” with someone else’s caution.
Pitting under the green at the Bristol half-mile, Cendrick lost four laps. Behind the eight ball, Cendrick trailed on the playoff net and spent 400 laps raking and scratching to stay in the game.
“For a while, it was as hard as I could possibly go, and when they fell like flies, try not to force any problems, try not to force more malfunctions in the front right tire,” Cendrick said. “From there, I think I tied 18 laps in 100 laps.”
It was Bush’s misfortune that put this scenario into play. Busch got out of the race on lap 270 because of the blown engine, and all of a sudden the points started fluctuating with Busch over the cut line, below the cut line, or tied up with Cindric.
Cendric was almost preoccupied with the Bush case. A catastrophic engine failure occurred on the Toyota Busch right in front of the Cindric, and when the Busch started to slow, Cindric almost ran in the back of it.
“I was in the front row doing just about everything tonight,” Cendrick said. “I think that’s what happens when you’re in the back. Fortunately, we didn’t have any mechanical issues, just the right front tires.”
Cendric was the first driver to suffer a tire failure in Bristol but not the last. However, he was one of the unlucky few who did not take heed of his problem. Something Cendrick expressed his frustration over his radio during the race as he questioned what warning flags had or not been thrown.
“There’s a part of me that wants to go, ‘Man that’s kind of to blame, I blew a tire and didn’t get any alarm,'” Cendrick said. It is not just a one time deal. Mine was the first to gold.
“I’m glad that I made it, but I’d be less happy about it if I wasn’t able to participate. Sure, there’s something to be said for coming to a very important race of the year with a new race of the year, but it’s not my decision to take and just understand how we can improve on that. from our side “.
It wasn’t until late into the final when Cindric started getting updates from his #2 team that there was a chance he could still advance in the playoffs.
There were still several laps left, Cindric took a wave around at one point to help count his laps and skip some others too on a bad night. By doing so, it helped Cindric maintain his car and focus on keeping it in one piece.
Cendrick came into Bristol holding his last transfer point and went from thinking he would be dumped after the early tire problem to knowing he needed every position he could get before the checkered flag to advance.
“The only time I ever got emotional was when the 10 tried to smash us to 21; that was kind of lame,” Cendrick said. “
After all was said and done, Cendrick called it “a night from hell.
“I still don’t think this place likes me again, but it may have shown me a little mercy tonight. So, I’m going to take her and run with her. We’ll be on attack in the next three races, just as we were going to start Darlington on this run and have some fun with her.”
Cendrick won the Daytona 500 in his first win in the NASCAR Cup Series and made the playoffs in the junior season. He was among the 12 who survived the first round for a while in the playoffs to live to fight another day.
“Oh yeah, I’m ready,” Cendrick said of the reset. “I’m fine. I got over it. It was the round, I don’t know.
“I feel like we lacked performance in the first race, we did really well and it wasn’t great execution in the second race, and there were points in the night I thought I was as good as everyone else. Then I kept blowing on the right fronts, and I wasn’t as good. So how are you going to go? things.”