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Austin Cindric defends winning bump as ‘game NASCAR has set up for us to play’

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Austin Cindric, whose last lap, bump-and-run move to win Sunday’s Camping World Truck Series race added to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park’s history of controversial finishes, says his actions were a result of “the game NASCAR has set up for us.’’

Cindric, who scored his first career series win to earn a spot in the playoffs for he and his Brad Keselowski Racing team, made his comments on the MRN Motorsports Monday show.

Cindric ran into the back of leader Kaz Grala’s truck and moved by to take the win. The contact spun Grala, who finished third.

“It’s pretty obvious what happened,’’ Cindric said of his contact. “I may have been too honest about what went through my head in order to make that happen. I don’t race that way, contrary to what most think, especially after yesterday.

“But honestly, it’s the game NASCAR has set up for us to play, which isn’t a negative, but it also is not a positive. Guys have dumped people for wins, especially at that race track for many, many years.

“I honestly would haven’t done it unless I had incentive. My incentive was to get the team a win, and my incentive was to get us in the playoffs. If we’re in the playoffs, I wouldn’t have done it. It’s just one of those deals that you had to get yourself to do.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever gone into a corner and known that I was going to throttle up and hit the guy in front of me. No, I wasn’t planning on spinning him out. There was a lot of runoff there to the left I was going to move him to and try to get a good run down the straightaway, but I ended up sending him around.

“You can’t apologize for winning. I definitely don’t like how it all ended up especially with Kaz because Kaz and I have grown up racing together. Kaz and I are friends. Obviously that may change after that weekend. I know he’s not very happy, and he has all the right to be. It’s one of those things I’m going to have to move through and try to earn some respect back over time, I guess.’’

Grala expressed his displeasure on Twitter after the race.

This adds to the legacy of memorable finishes at the road track.

Last year, John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Custer made contact coming to the finish line. Custer needed to win to make the playoffs. Nemechek won.

“Even in the Cole Custer thing and Nemechek last year, the thing about that was Nemechek took Cole’s chance away to contend for the championship,’’ Cindric told MRN Motorsports Monday. “I guess maybe where I was a bit too blunt in saying in my interview after the race that Kaz was already in the playoffs … I wasn’t taking his future away. I was taking a win away. Obviously, it still hurts just as much.

“It’s one of those deals that it made it a very simple decision for me. I didn’t know if I was going to have enough time to pass him cleanly down in (Turn) 10, and it was one of those things he probably wasn’t expecting me to get to him in (Turn) 5. Five was where I was strongest all day. I’m going to have to exploit that. I felt like that was the best way for me to get away before the last corner because you can usually see guys able to come back at them through (Turns) 9 and 10 because they’re esses, it’s just kind of one of those deals.

“You’re exactly right, in no series that I’ve raced in before except for in NASCAR have you been able to get away with something like that. It’s the game you play, and you have to play the game. I’m actually, honestly very surprised that lots of people aren’t accepting of what happened. I can understand that they’re upset, but it’s a move I had to make to put ourselves in a position to contend for the championship.’’

In 2013, Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon raced for the win there. Elliott won after contact on the final corner of the final lap.

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Coca-Cola 600 resumes after rain delay

Coca-Cola 600
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The Coca-Cola 600 is back under way following a rain delay.

The caution was issued on Lap 49 for rain and the field was brought to pit road. The red flag was issued at 7:07 p.m. ET and lifted at 8:16 p.m. ET.

The top five at the time of the stoppage was Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano.

Check back for updates.

 

Denny Hamlin team faces potential penalty after ballast falls off car

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Denny Hamlin was involved in an incident even before Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 got underway that could result in a hefty penalty.

A chunk of tungsten ballast — which teams use to bring Cup cars up to minimum weight standards — fell off Hamlin’s car on a parade lap.

The incident puts Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabehart and several others on the team in violation of the NASCAR rule book, which means a hefty penalty could be in the offing.

According to the NASCAR rule book, the penalty is 12.5.2.7.4.d: Minimum safety penalty options — “Loss or separation of added ballast from the vehicle will result in a four Race suspension of the crew chief, car chief, and head engineer. If NASCAR cannot identify which series or vehicle the lost ballast originated from, all vehicles entered for that Event from and associated with the team organization identified on the lost ballast may receive the suspensions.”

If NASCAR implements the potential penalty, Gabehart and others could miss the following four races: May 27 at Charlotte, May 31 at Bristol, June 7 at Atlanta and June 10 at Martinsville.

Several of those tracks are good for Hamlin, including winning the Bristol summer night race last year, as well as was fourth at the Martinsville playoff race last fall and 11th at Atlanta.

NASCAR ordered Hamlin back to pit road where the No. 11 crew added a new chunk of ballast to Hamlin’s car. He returned to the race eight laps down.

Here’s what a fabricator from rival team Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted about the incident:

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Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

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Chevrolet drivers swept the top three rows for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600, led by Kurt Busch‘s pole-winning lap of 181.269 mph.

Jimmie Johnson was next with a lap of 181.214 mph. He was followed by Chase Elliott (181.002 mph), Matt Kenseth (180.923), rookie Tyler Reddick (180.905) and Austin Dillon (180.741).

Ford driver Joey Logano, who starts seventh after a lap of 180.451 mph, was the top qualifier not driving a Chevrolet.

TO THE REAR: Matt DiBenedetto (backup car), Brad Keselowski (unapproved adjustment), Aric Almirola (unapproved adjustment), JJ Yeley (unapproved adjustment) and Timmy Hill (unapproved adjustment)

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Kurt Busch on pole for Coca-Cola 600

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Kurt Busch will lead the field to the green flag for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600 after claiming the pole Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It is Busch’s 28th career pole and first at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch is joined on the front row by Jimmie Johnson. Chase Elliott qualified third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Tyler Reddick. Austin Dillon was sixth, as Chevrolet drivers took the top six spots.

Click here for qualifying results

Aric Almirola spun coming to take the green flag to begin his qualifying lap. He grazed the wall with his rear bumper.

Matt DiBenedetto slapped the wall off Turn 4 during his qualifying lap and will go to a backup car and start at the rear of the field.