FORT WORTH, TX – Austin Cindric is a prime example on how a lack of playoff points mixed with one bad result in the playoffs can cost you a shot at a championship. On Saturday, the Team Penske driver brought his No. 22 Ford home third in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway. It was his fourth top three finish in five NASCAR XFINITY Series playoff races run this season.
Reading that stat, you would think that the second year driver is on the verge of a Championship 4 appearance right? Instead, he still sits 31 points behind the bubble with only one race remaining in the Round of 8.
Cindric, also finished 25th in the opening race of the second round two weeks ago at the Kansas Speedway and that one bad finish has cost him.
The “Big 3” has been so dominant over the course of the entire season as Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick have combined to win 20 of the 31 races run. Bell, earned his eighth trip to victory lane on Saturday night and will automatically advance to the Championship 4 as a result.
Custer, finished eighth and is +52. Reddick, crashed and finished 29th, but all those points carry him to a 37 point advantage with one race to go in the round.
So, that leaves one spot among five drivers. Justin Allgaier may not have won in 39 races now but he also finished sixth on Saturday night for his 15th straight top 10 result. He went from +2 to +18 as Chase Briscoe lost 16 points in having two incidents over the second half of the race.
Michael Annett didn’t score any stage points and finished 11th while Noah Gragson scored five stage points but crashed and finished 30th.
So, you have Cindric finishing second, third, third, 25th and now third in the playoffs but scoring seven stage points compared to 11 for Allgaier made him move up from eighth to seventh in the standings but he actually lost a point in the championship from -30 to -31. That means he has to win next Saturday in Phoenix to keep his championship hopes alive. That’s crazy to think about with four top three finishes.