Austin Cindric fought back the tears as he spoke outside the infield care center at Darlington Raceway.
Driving this week for Roush Fenway Racing, Cindric took a hard hit in the No. 60 Ford on the frontstretch after being tagged in the left rear by Ryan Truex. The contact happened off Turn 4 and sent Cindric spinning to the inside and destroying his race car just two laps into the race.
But Cindric wasn’t just mad about the accident. It was a season’s worth of frustration bubbling to the surface.
“This has been quite a wild a year,” Cindric said. “Got poles [at Iowa and Mid-Ohio]. Had great races. I haven’t had one race this year that I could say has gone how you’d want a race to go. My only mindset coming into today was to learn 200 miles around Darlington. That’s all I cared about. All I cared about was getting a good run for this team, and to be taken out on Lap 2 sucks. Sucks bad, and just shows the level of respect some guys race with.
“It’s tough. It bothers me a lot but got to keep fighting. Can’t give up. But it’s been a tough year.”
The emotion could also be heard in Cindric’s voice over the team radio after the crash. Asked by his team if he was OK, Cindric replied he was, but voice cracking he added, “This is ridiculous.”
Darlington will be Cindric’s fifth DNF of the season. The 19-year-old is running a full season this year and hoping to make the Xfinity Series playoffs. His season, however, is being split between time in a Roush car, as he was Saturday afternoon, and running a Team Penske car in other events.
Cindric’s average finish going into the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 was 17.5, and he has just seven top-10 finishes.
“It was just one of those racing deals,” Cindric said. “It’s hard for the spotters to see off of [Turn] 4, but either somebody cleared themselves up too early or…. I mean, we were right by the wall so there’s nothing I can do. I get turned on and plug the fence two laps into the race. I’m really frustrated about that. I’m frustrated that this is my last race with the 60 car. This team has worked really, really hard and has nothing to show for it.
“It’s a bummer to end on this kind of a note, but we’ll keep moving and keep fighting. I’m in the 12 car at Indy. It should be a good run and then finish out the year in the 22, so hopefully, we can stay above the playoff cut line and keep going.”
When Cindric was starting to be asked if he had had previous run-ins or issues with Truex, he hurried said, “I don’t care who it is.”