Cindric claims victory in NASCAR Cup series after Blaney slows on final lap

MADISON, Ill. (AP) — Austin Cindric emerged as the surprise winner of the NASCAR Cup series race Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway when teammate Ryan Blaney apparently ran out of gas while leading on the final lap.

Blaney, the reigning NASCAR Cup series champion, appeared to be on his way to his first win of the season after fighting off a challenge from Christopher Bell, who had his own car trouble in the closing laps.

Cindric, who had pitted just one lap after Blaney, took advantage of the situation and notched his second career victory. The other came in the 2022 Daytona 500.

Denny Hamlin came in second, recording his sixth straight top-5 finish. Brad Keselowski was third, followed by Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano.

Bell had been the dominant car for much of the day in suburban St. Louis, leading 80 of the 240 laps. The three Penske cars — Cindric, Blaney and Logano — did not pit in the break between the second and third stages, and that put them in position to go for the win.

Blaney and Bell, the winner of last week’s rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600, dueled for the lead for several laps before Bell — just after finally squeezing ahead of Blaney briefly — let up and reported motor issues to his crew. Bell wound up seventh, getting a push by teammate Martin Truex Jr. on the straightaways in the final laps.

Blaney settled for 24th, coasting around as the last finisher on the lead lap.

Michael McDowell started on the pole and led the first 40 laps before Bell maneuvered his way inside to take the lead for the first time.

Kyle Busch, last year’s winner who struggled with grip in practice and qualifying on Saturday, pitted on lap 19 during an early caution and took the lead following the restart when other leaders pitted after Stage 1 concluded on lap 45.

But Bell quickly carved through the eight cars that hadn’t pitted and reclaimed the lead on the 69th lap.


Busch and Kyle Larson were battling side-by-side for seventh on the final lap of Stage 2 when they got together in an incident that took the defending race champion out.

After the two rubbed on the front stretch, Larson tried to dive inside Busch going into Turn 1, but he got loose in the process. Larson’s car slid up the track and forced Busch into the wall. Busch’s race was over, but Larson was able to pit and return to the race in 29th place.

“Trying to race for a playoff spot and, you know, gradually falling there a little bit,” said Busch, who was the runner-up in the track’s inaugural Cup series race in 2022 before winning last year. “He got loose and wiped us out.”

On their radio communications, Larson and his spotter accused Busch of causing the crash by giving him no room on the inside.


Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Terron Armstead, who is from nearby Cahokia, Illinois, brought 20 area kids to the race as part of his foundation’s growing efforts in the community.

Armstead hosted his second annual charity basketball game Friday and his 10th annual football skills camp on Saturday

“The overall goal for everything this weekend is really exposure and introduction to different industries, different paths, a lot of different walks of life, different sports, networking, meeting new people, connecting dots, relationship building,” said Armstead, who recently restructured his contract in hopes of helping the Dolphins win the Super Bowl.

“That’s the goal — and for memories. Maybe spark a fire in the youth.”



Jeff Latzke, The Associated Press

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