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Enjoy Illinois 300: Austin Cindric Wins Gateway Thriller As Ryan Blaney Runs Out Of Fuel


Austin Cindric celebrates in Victory Lane at Gateway.
Austin Cindric silenced his doubters with a strong performance at Gateway. (Photo: Sean Gardner | Getty Images)

MADISON, Ill. - After Ryan Blaney ran out of fuel coming to the white flag, his teammate at Team Penske, Austin Cindric, capitalized on the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion's misfortune and cruised to Victory Lane in the Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway.


Cindric snapped an 85-race winless streak, dating all the way back to the 2022 Daytona 500. The driver of the No. 2 Freightliner Ford started second, led 53 laps, scored 56 points and locked himself into the playoffs with his second career Cup Series victory.


"Honestly, I’m heartbroken for the 12 team," Cindric said. "I don’t know what happened to them at the end of the race, but they deserved to win this race. Ryan has been a hell of a leader on this team. This weekend was a great weekend for everybody involved. To have two cars in the fight and an eventual one-two there, like I said, I’m heartbroken for those guys, but this is huge for me.


"This is huge for this team. I’m so glad I was able to get a win with Brian (Wilson) as my crew chief in the Cup Series. You never know when it’s gonna happen again. I just drove my butt off and hoped for the best."


Blaney, who seemed like the for-sure winner at Gateway, ran out of fuel while in the lead coming to the white flag. The 2023 series champion limped his car to finish 24th, the last car on the lead lap.

"I never thought in my mind we were short [on fuel]," Blaney said. "It’s one of those things. I’m proud of the 12 boys. The Menards/Richmond Ford was fast. I had my work cut out for me holding off Christopher (Bell), that was fun. I don’t know what happened to him, but just one lap short.


"That stinks, but congrats to the 2 team. They did a good job all day. Props to them, Austin. I’m proud for Team Penske and Ford. I’m really happy with our showing today. I don’t know what I’ve got to do to get some luck on our side. I’ve wrecked the last two points races and thought we had a great shot to win today and I ended up bad, so I just appreciate the effort. We just have to keep sticking with it."


The other driver who seemed to be heading to Victory Lane before having late-race issues with his car was Joe Gibbs Racing's Christopher Bell, the winner of last week's race at Charlotte. Bell swept both Stage 1 and Stage 2, but had engine trouble and wound up seventh after leading a race-high 80 laps.


"I have no idea what happened with our DEWALT Camry – some sort of motor issue, and I’m surprised that it made it to the end," Bell said. "Glad we were able to salvage something out of it – but you don’t get race cars like that very often – whenever you do, you need to take advantage of them, so that is disappointing."


Results from the 2024 Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway are listed below.

2024 Enjoy Illinois 300 Results.

Other Race Facts

Denny Hamlin finished in the top five for the fifth consecutive race. His second-place finish helped him keep control as the NASCAR Cup Series points leader.


"We had a top-five car – we didn’t have the best today, but the Yahoo Camry was in the mix, and was able to capitalize on some others misfortune there," Hamlin said. "We were going to have a top-five day regardless, but proud of the team. They did a great job on pit road – Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) and the team brought a great car, just wasn’t quite enough."


Team Penske's Joey Logano finished in fifth, which makes him the only driver to finish in the top 10 in all three Cup Series races at Gateway. He won in 2022 and finished third in 2023 at the Illinois track.


Austin Dillon, Carson Hocevar and Justin Haley all finished inside the top 10. For Hocevar, it was a career-best finish, bringing home the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet in eighth. For Haley, it was the first time in the history of Rick Ware Racing that the team had two top-10 finishes in a three-race span, according to statistician Trey Ryan.


Brad Keselowski's third-place finish makes it the sixth time in 2024 where he's finished inside the top three. It is also the third consecutive time after finishing second at Charlotte and first at Darlington.


GRID Ranking

The 2024 GRID Ranking is the eighth year of the world's premier motorsport ranking and was initially released on Sunday, April 7.


The official ranking includes drivers that participate in seven racing series (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP), and each driver earns GRID Ratings, which help determine their seeding in the GRID Ranking.

DRIVER

OLD RATING

PREVIOUS RANKING

MOST RECENT FINISH

NEW RATING

NEW RANKING

Denny Hamlin

12.64

T-17th

2nd

13.64

T-11th

William Byron

14.34

11th

15th

13.43

14th

Brad Keselowski

12.52

19th

3rd

13.21

16th

Kyle Larson

12.64

T-17th

10th

11.73

T-21st

Christopher Bell

11.38

25th

7th

11.21

24th

Week 9 of the GRID Ranking:

Denny Hamlin has taken the NASCAR GRID Rating lead for the first time this season after earning five straight top-five finishes. NASCAR's top five remain the same, but only Bell remains in the same spot as last week.


The next race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. Coverage will begin on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 9.


GRID Network

GRID YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@gridranking

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