Rising through NASCAR’s ranks Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric have become fierce competitors with each other on the track, and friends off the track.
They raced each other in NASCAR’s Truck series, and in 2020 dueled in the Xfinity series all season long with Cindric ultimately taking the title in the last race of the season from Briscoe.
They are both now in NASCAR’s Cup series and again in Playoff contention.
That, however, might change in one week.
Briscoe holds the final Playoff spot on points to move to the next round. But he’s tied with Cindric with the tiebreaker being in Briscoe’s favor by virtue of his better finishes in the first two races of this round.
Sunday though, it was Cindric who had the better showing, finishing fourth in Stage 1, and the race in ninth. That Stage 1 finish came after Cindric recovered from being swept up in the race’s only multi-car crash on lap 29. Fortunately for Cindric he was able to come through relatively unscathed to grab those Stage points.
“Stage points are a big deal,” Cindric said. “Obviously, helping the 12 car get a stage win was big and recovery from the wreck, damage control and driving back up through the field, I think when everybody kind of scatters to try and do what’s best for them, it’s very important to be decisive and I was able to make some good moves and be able to be in some lanes that moved.”
Briscoe said he spent most of the race trying to find his way around the field. He finished outside the top 10 in Stage 1, and was 10th in Stage 2.
“I think that was the most racy race from start to finish,” Briscoe said. “We barely ever ran single-file and these cars it’s so hard to make up ground. It seems like track position is such a big deal and you’ve got guys pushing so hard, just trying to maintain the lane that they’re in. I guess from my side of things it was really racy because you’re never really riding around. You’ve got to go so hard all the time and shove the guy in front of you. We never really got single-file around the top, but I was surprised we didn’t see a wreck. “
Which driver, Briscoe or Cindric moves on to the next round will be decided at Charlotte’s ROVAL next week.
Last season Cindric was sixth in the Xfinity race there, Briscoe 18th. But while Cindric has not raced the ROVAL in a Cup car, Briscoe was 22nd last season, his first in the Cup series. Briscoe also owns something at the ROVAL that Cindric doesn’t; Briscoe won the Xfinity race there in 2018.
“It’s a place I feel like I can get around pretty well,” Briscoe said. “In the Xfinity car I was always pretty fast there. Had a good car last year, it was a little bit of a struggle.
“Me and Cindric are tied going into there, I feel like he’s one of the best guys around there too, it’s going to be a challenge. We’ll see what happens.”
For his part, Cindric seemed happy just to finish where he did considering how his race at Talladega went.
“Call it 50/50 decisiveness and 50 percent luck,” he said. “But, overall, it certainly puts us in a good spot to race for a spot in the Round of 8 at the ROVAL, so we’ll put our best foot forward and have some fun next week.”
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